US Army and Microsoft working to ‘mature' IVAS technology, delays operational testing and fielding

by Ashley Roque

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division use the latest IVAS prototype during a training exercise in October 2020. (US Army )

The US Army has postponed plans to field Microsoft's HoloLens 2 augmented reality (AR) system to soldiers while it ‘matures' the technology, the service has confirmed.

Janes first reported that the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology's (ASAALT's) office paused the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) programme while it worked to refine its timeline. While the army has not responded to Janes questions about what prompted this decision, it has confirmed that operational testing that had been slated to occur in July of this year had been bumped to May 2022 “in order to further mature technologies”.

If the army's revamped timeline proceeds as planned and ASAALT approves IVAS fielding, the service anticipates reaching the first unit equipped date in September 2022.

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DARPA hosting final drone swarm demo in November, companies look for service buy in

by Ashley Roque

Shown here is an image of Northrop Grumman participating in DARPA's OFFSET programme. Both Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN will attempt to have a single operator control 200-plus ground and aerial drones during a November demo. (Northrop Grumman)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) may be focused on finding technologies to down aerial drones, however, its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is also working with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN on ways a single operator can control hundreds of ground and aerial drones at once. While this developmental effort has been ongoing for years, it is scheduled to culminate in November when both companies head to Fort Campbell in Kentucky for a field experiment where each entity will test out their respective technologies.

Under the agency's Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) programme, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have been working as ‘swarm system integrators'. In this position, they have been developing the architectures, interfaces, and their own swarm tactics exchanges – this houses tools to help design swarm tactics by composing collective behaviours, swarm algorithms, and existing swarm tactics – to enable a single person to operate hundreds of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) drones at once.

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US Navy Naval Information Warfare Systems commander notes need for software development cultural shift

by Michael Fabey

The US Navy (USN) shift towards the development, security, and operations (DevSecOps) mindset of updating software used in the commercial world will require a “cultural change”, according to Rear Admiral Douglas Small, commander of the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command.

“DevSecOps, the cloud, platforms – all are necessary, infrastructure-wise,” Rear Adm Small said on 19 October during a keynote address at the American Society of Naval Engineers Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium 2021.

“It's bringing developers and users together in a fast-moving cycle of software development and sustainment, so much so that the line blurs between what is development and what is sustainment,” Rear Adm Small said.

It offers benefits from an acquisitions perspective, he noted. Rather than waiting for several years for large baseline developments that yield a new capability, the USN can get smaller and more frequent software updates.

“That's the way the world works now,” he said. “We need to adopt that. It is a huge undertaking.”

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CENTCOM stepping up C-UAS effort

by Jeremy Binnie

A member of the US Air Force's 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron trains with a DroneDefender system during the C-UAS training at Camp Buehring. (US Central Command)

US Central Command (CENTCOM) is improving its counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) effort with a “rapidly evolving set of tools and training”, it said on 18 October.

The C-UAS effort is being assisted by a dedicated Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) cell serving with Task Force Phoenix, the aviation unit currently supporting US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria.

“In response to recent UAS attacks on coalition bases in Iraq and Syria, the Task Force Phoenix CEMA cell performed battlefield assessments and identified gaps in C-UAS training,” CENTCOM said. “The team then reached out to the Yuma Counter-UAS Training Academy and US Army Forces Command to get the latest C-UAS training packages being used stateside.”

The result was a five-day training programme for C-UAS operators that includes virtual-reality simulation and hands-on training with handheld systems.

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