India‘s BEL enters UAV market to thwart airfield attacks

by Akhil Kadidal & Akshara Parakala

An image of Bharath Electronic Limited (BEL) new tethered airbase surveillance drone. (Janes/Akhil Kadidal)

Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is developing a tethered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to thwart future infiltration attacks on air bases.

BEL officials said that the company is working on a programme to develop the tethered UAV system, which weighs 9 kg and is designed to loiter in a fixed position above airfields and army bases, providing 360-degree surveillance capability.

“The UAV is tethered by an optical fibre cable, which also has a power line leading to a ground-based battery,” a BEL official said. The officials added that the UAV has an onboard backup battery system with five minutes of power.

The UAV, as per specifications disclosed by the company, contains a single charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor that has a range of 2 km in daylight. At night, the visible range is 1 km. A second electro-optical/infrared sensor has a range of 600 m.

BEL officials said the UAV can stay airborne for six hours. The rotor operation is limited by overheating after six hours and must be cooled for an hour.

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Raytheon Technologies to merge two defence businesses

by Marc Selinger

Raytheon Technologies' products include the sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missile. (NAVAIR)

Raytheon Technologies (RTX) plans to streamline its organisation by combining its two defence-focused business units into one, the US-based company announced on 24 January.

Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RIS) and Raytheon Missiles & Defense (RMD) will become a single business called Raytheon. Aircraft parts maker Collins Aerospace and aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney will remain individual businesses within RTX.

RTX chief operating officer Christopher Calio said that combining RIS and RMD will improve internal collaboration and present a more united front to customers. “We've had customer feedback throughout the last couple of years about the need for us to figure out how to better integrate some of our solutions,” Calio told analysts.

RIS president Roy Azevedo will retire from his role and become an adviser to Calio, who will oversee the reorganisation. RTX plans to implement the merger in the second half of 2023. Asked whether RMD president Wesley Kremer will lead the combined defence business, an RTX spokesperson told Janes that “no decisions have been made”.

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US lawmakers want details on civilian ISR, space-based combat capabilities

by Carlo Munoz

L3Harris Technologies completed the first flight of the US Army Airborne Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare System (ARES) aircraft – that will help modernise and enhance the army's ISR capabilities – on 27 August 2021 in Melbourne, Florida. (L3Harris)

US congressional lawmakers are calling upon the US Army and the Pentagon to provide details on how they plan to close mission gaps in high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, as well as develop a new artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled battlefield sensor management system.

Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense requested US Army Secretary Christine Wormuth to provide details on how the ground service will continue to provide “contractor-owned, contractor-operated” high-altitude ISR capabilities at the US European Command (EUCOM) and the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM).

In addition, subcommittee members are demanding a service-led evaluation to identify “the army's gap in ISR capabilities, including for high-[altitude] initiatives”, according to the subcommittee report accompanying the fiscal year (FY) 2023 defence appropriations bill.

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Israel acquires unmanned swarming capability

by Olivia Savage

Israeli company Xtend will supply its robotic operating system, which enables unmanned swarming, to the Israel Ministry of Defense (MoD).

The USD20 million multi-year contract is part of a joint project with the Israeli MoD called ‘Urban Capsule', which seeks to accelerate and scale Xtend's Operating System (XOS), Ido Bar-On, vice-president of business development and sales for Xtend, told Janes on 16 January.

Urban Capsule will involve extending the operating system's ability to simultaneously control multiple semi-autonomous unmanned platforms by integrating third-party platforms and artificial intelligence (AI) software, thereby “breaking the limitations of how many robots or robotic platforms [can be controlled] simultaneously under a single operating system”, Bar-On detailed.

The company will also deliver “dozens of operational capabilities at the end of this programme”, he said. Overall, the project expects to advance the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operational arm while reducing risk, he added.

XOS is a human-guided solution that enables an operator to control multiple unmanned platforms intuitively with little or no training, Bar-On explained.

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