Update: Royal Australian Navy to acquire Bluebottle USVs
30 November 2022
by Julian Kerr & Oishee Majumdar
When deployed, the solar sail of the Bluebottle (pictured) harnesses both solar and wind energy. In headwinds or winds more than 25 kt, the solar sail automatically folds onto the deck of the USV. (Ocius)
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is acquiring five Bluebottle unmanned surface vessels (USVs) to enhance its ability to experiment and advance the operational employment of uncrewed systems under, on, and above the water.
Disclosing a AUD4.9 million (USD3.3 million) contract with Sydney-based Ocius Technologies, Rear Admiral Peter Quinn, head of the Navy Capability in the RAN, said on 25 November that this represented a significant investment in sovereign industry capability to advance the ability of the RAN to effectively employ robotic and autonomous systems.
“We have vast areas that we need to patrol, which we can't do with a small number of crewed ships. We have to and will be investing in uncrewed platforms that will be out there persistently conducting surveillance,'' he said.
The 22 ft solar, wind, and wave-powered vessels would be used in developing new uncrewed underwater systems technology, and as testbeds for above-water and low-water surveillance, he said.
US Space Force seeks battle-ready microchip prototypes
01 February 2023
by Carlo Munoz
The USAF's 45th Space Wing launches an advanced extremely high frequency satellite onboard an Atlas V launch vehicle, which is part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle programme. (US Air Force)
Engineers at the US Department of Defense (DoD) and US Space Force (USSF) are looking to develop a new generation of microchips that can withstand the harsh radiation exposure associated with deep-space operations, while also employing cutting-edge micro-electronics (ME) technologies from the military and commercial sectors.
The Advanced Next Generation Strategic Radiation-hardened Memory (ANGSTRM) programme, as designed, will ensure that critical space-based assets – such as military satellites, command-and-control systems for strategic missile systems, and anti-missile warning nodes and systems – will be equipped with “near-commercial state-of-the-art performance … while still meeting the radiation requirements for the space and strategic environments”, USSF programme officials wrote in a 23 January industry solicitation.
While the USSF is the lead organisation conducting the ANGSTRM programme, the effort is one of several testing, development, and prototype technology initiatives being contracted to the industry through the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) via its Space Technology Advanced Research-Fast-tracking Innovative Software and Hardware (STAR-FISH) programme.
German Army receives Ziesel unmanned ground vehicles for testing
01 February 2023
by Alexander Stronell
Ziesel light UGV pictured at the Lehnin training ground near Berlin, in December 2022. (Janes/Alexander Stronell)
The German Army has procured two prototype Ziesel light unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for testing and evaluation, Janes has learnt.
The German Army received the two systems in December 2022, and will conduct the testing for an undetermined period, according to spokespeople for the German Army and the system's manufacturer, Diehl Defence GmbH.
The Ziesel is a tracked UGV designed for close infantry support in roles including logistics and casualty evacuation (casevac).
Explaining the acquisition process to date, Alexander Wolf, head of Technology Management Unmanned Systems and Systroncis at Diehl Defence GmbH, said, “The German Army were looking at our UGV and autonomy research [in the mid 2010s]. We thought about the kind of terrain on which the German Army might be operating, and it's often the forest. That required a platform somewhat smaller than the THeMIS and the Mission Master.”
The THeMIS and Mission Master medium UGVs are modular vehicles produced by Milrem Robotics and Rheinmetall, respectively. They have proven to be popular acquisitions among Western militaries.
New sea trials planned for Northrop Grumman EA prototype
31 January 2023
by Carlo Munoz
An artist's rendering of the SEWIP Block 3 EA subsystem installed on a DDG-51 destroyer. (Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman is preparing to conduct a new round of sea trials of its prototype electronic attack (EA) system for the US Navy, building upon the lessons learned from the system's last live demonstration carried out during the sea service's Rim of the Pacific' (RIMPAC) exercises in the summer of 2022.
As part of thatramp up to the new sea trials, tentatively scheduled for the end of 2023, company officials are preparing to conduct a series of lab-based test and development demonstrations of the Ultra-Lite EA Prototype System, Mike Meaney, vice-president of land and maritime sensors at Northrop Grumman, told Janes.
The lab-based tests, set to begin in the coming weeks, will evaluate how the new EA prototype platform will be able to integrate into the current ship infrastructure aboard several warships within the navy's fleet.
Specifically, programme officials will virtually disconnect the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 3 variant aboard several ship classes in the navy fleet, and swap in the new EA prototype system, Meaney explained during a 19 January interview.
Harry Kemsley and Sean Corbett are joined by Dr Claire Yorke, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, to discuss the fascinating subject of empathy and why it is so important in decision making, our analysis and open-source intelligence.