US Air Force moves ahead with new SIGINT sensor prototypes

by Carlo Munoz

A nose view of the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 20 AV 04 2015 that shows the types enlarged under fuselage sensor housing and the provision for SIGINT antennas built into both sides of its forward fuselage. (Northrop Grumman Corporation)

The US Air Force (USAF) is moving headlong into the prototype phase of the service's new, open architecture-based signals intelligence (SIGINT) programme, tapping Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems to develop the sensor hardware and networking backbone in support of the effort.

Engineers at BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman will provide prototype SIGINT sensor platforms for the USAF's Global High-altitude Open-system Sensor Technology (GHOST) programme, according to statements by both defence companies. Based on a scalable, open systems architecture and an expeditionary chassis, the eventual SIGINT sensor platform fielded under the GHOST programme will enable service officials to employ the sensor on a variety of manned and unmanned aerial systems within the USAF's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) arsenal.

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Japan steps up development of high-powered microwave weapons

by Kosuke Takahashi

Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) has allocated new funding for the development of high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons.

The MoD's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) has allocated JPY7.2 billion (USD63.2 million) for fiscal year (FY) 2022, which starts in April, to fund efforts to complete a prototype of an HPM radiation weapon system by FY 2026.

ATLA documents seen by Janes also show that the agency aims to develop four technologies by FY 2026 that will be used in the new HPM system.

These technologies comprise: a small- and high-powered module that uses an active phased-array antenna; heat systems that enable a ‘streamed' HPM beam to be directed at an aerial target with maximum continuous power; HPM fire-control technologies to track and beam HPM energy at targets; and technologies to deal with multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at once.

ATLA said the capability of existing air-defence systems is limited, given the increasingly wide range of threats. It added that an HPM weapon would meet future requirements for a persistent capability at a low cost.

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Update: Taiwan's MND reports increased PLAAF incursions

by Jon Grevatt

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said that it mobilised its combat aircraft on 23 and 24 January in response to deployments of 52 Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft in its air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

The incursions were the largest reported by the MND since October 2021.

In a statement, the MND said the PLAAF aircraft were operating in the southwestern part of its ADIZ, close to Dongsha (also called Pratas) Island, which is administered by Taiwan. This position has often been cited by the MND as the location of increasingly regular ADIZ incursions.

According to the MND, PLAAF aircraft activity in the ADIZ on 23 January featured 39 aircraft. These included 24 Shenyang J-16 and 10 Chengdu J-10 fighter aircraft; two Shaanxi Y-9 (possibly a Y-9JB or Y-9G variant) and two Shaanxi Y-8 (possibly a Y-8G or Y-8CB) electronic intelligence aircraft; and one H-6 strategic bomber.

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Saudi receives first Chinooks

by Gareth Jennings

Saudi Arabia has received its first CH-47F Chinook helicopters, similar to this US Army model. (US Army)

Boeing has handed over the first CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for Saudi Arabia, a company representative told Janes on 24 January.

Confirmation came after an image of at least the first four helicopters in Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) livery apparently at a port of debarkation was posted online, seeming to confirm that deliveries of up to 48 such helicopters approved by the US government in 2016 had begun.

“We can confirm that Chinook aircraft [for Saudi Arabia] have been delivered to the US Army. We are currently contracted for eight new Chinook helicopters [for Saudi Arabia], and anticipate delivery to the US Army to continue through 2022. Since this is an FMS sale, our customer is the US Army,” Boeing said.

Although Boeing declined to divulge further details, the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had previously disclosed that the approved Saudi Arabian Chinook procurement of 48 helicopters was valued at USD3.51 billion in 2016.

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The US Air Force (USAF) is moving headlong into the prototype phase of the service's new, open archi...

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