Janes Defence Technology

Latest reporting and analysis on defence technology developments

Stay up to date with the latest insight, news and analysis on global defence technology. Stories derived from Janes Defence: News Module.

Airshow China 2021: CASC unveils airdrop AUV concept

30th Sep: Chinese defence prime China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is showcasing for the first time its airdroppable autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) concept at Airshow China 2021, which is being held in Zhuhai from 28 September to 3 October. Developed by CASC subsidiary China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA, also known as the 11th Academy) in Beijing, the Multi-mission Reconfigurable Autonomous Underwater Vehicle features a modular seaframe that has a diameter of 0.32 m and measures between 3 m and 4 m in length depending on its configuration. The forward half of the AUV comprises the nose module, which houses a high-frequency, short-range forward-looking sonar to aid obstacle avoidance and the first of two buoyancy modules that house ballast tanks for depth control as well as a set of horizontal and vertical tunnel thrusters designed to enhance the AUV's low-speed lateral manoeuvrability and enables it to hover.

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DARPA, USAF fly Raytheon HAWC design

30th Sep: The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), in association with the US Air Force (USAF), completed the first free-flight test of Raytheon Technologies' prototype air-launched, air-breathing hypersonic cruise missile design for DARPA's classified Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) programme in mid-September. Powered by a supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) engine that was designed by Northrop Grumman, the missile was released from under the wing of an unrevealed aircraft type over an undisclosed range in the United States. Seconds later, a solid rocket motor boosted the missile to supersonics speeds, where the scramjet engine ignited and accelerated the HAWC prototype cruise missile to a speed in excess of Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound).

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Afghan withdrawal exposes critical data management gaps

27th Sep: The chaotic withdrawal of US armed forces from Afghanistan exposed a series of critical gaps in tactical-level data management operations, prompting senior US Department of Defense (DoD) leaders to reconsider whether American and allied forces are prepared to wage war on an increasingly networked battlefield. The inability for US armed forces to have timely access to vital data feeds and sources, providing information on everything, from basic combat situational awareness to active threats facing US force protection units, was one of several battlefield information failures that faced American and allied units overseeing the pull-out from Afghanistan. Those failures and the subsequent challenges they posed to US armed forces on the ground in Kabul “exemplified what a future joint war fight might look like in terms of data”, said US Army Brigadier General Rob Parker.

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Mosaic warfare: the march towards interconnectivity

27th Sep: Information and data-sharing networks have changed the landscape of defence operations. Great-power actors have been investing in technology that enables high-speed connectivity between a growing number of warfighters, networks, and autonomous or manned machines that can interact in a highly complex and increasingly unpredictable battle environment. At the same time there is an emerging drive to link a growing number of sensors, mobile land platforms, aircraft, mission systems, unmanned systems, man-portable devices, human-wearable devices, weapons, munitions, software, and other technology to become a single information network. The overall objective is to create a dynamic and adaptive matrix that enables real-time, actionable, and predictive analytics for decision making, command and control (C2), and other in-theatre capabilities.

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Kalashnikov developing ‘smart' weapons for infantry

24th Sep: The Kalashnikov Group is developing a firearm-mounted kit that manages target data and increases situational awareness for individual troops, Maria Vorobyeva, a company spokesperson, told Janes on 21 September. “We have been developing smart weapons for quite a while now in both military and commercial small arms segments,” Vorobyeva said. The new system is to be integrated with soldier protection, combat management, and power supply subsystems. According to Kalashnikov, the kit will feature a modular design, and forthcoming weapons fitted with the device will have a weight comparable to the 3.5 kg AK-12 5.45 mm assault rifle, which has been adopted by the Russian Armed Forces. The new weapon, fitted with the smart kit, is designed to engage personnel wearing body armour at distances up to 600 m.

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Update: AFA 2021: Boeing unveils Long-Range Air-to-Air Missile concept

24th Sep: Boeing displayed at the Air Force Association's (AFA's) annual convention a half-scale model of a Long-Range Air-to-Air Missile (LRAAM) concept it developed in response to an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) broad agency announcement (BAA) for LRAAM technologies. Zac Wood, Boeing's manager for global sales and marketing at Phantom Works advanced weapons, told Janes on 21 September at the show that the AFRL sought capabilities in multipulse, air breathing, and two-stage missile design. While Boeing did respond to all three technology areas, Wood said Boeing developed the two-stage LRAAM for the portion that desired a two-stage design. Wood believes the AFRL wanted a two-stage design to evaluate ways to extend the missile, as a two-stage concept allows the back half to drop off in flight, allowing the vehicle to gain aerodynamic efficiencies. The LRAAM has solid rocket motor propulsion and could be deployed from fourth-, fifth-, and even sixth-generation aircraft, although this would be up to the US Air Force (USAF) to decide. He said the range of the weapon is classified.

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DSEI 2021: iXblue unveils UmiX series of inertial measurement units

24th Sep: France's iXblue has unveiled its new UmiX series of inertial measurement units (IMU) that utilise miniaturised gyroscopes, during the DSEI 2021 exhibition held in London from 14–17 September. The IMU is intended to become a component part of a range of systems from stabilised opto-electrical sights to inertial navigation systems and missile guidance systems, David Cunningham, the company's commercial director told Janes on 15 September. The UmiX series represents about four years of research and development that the company has funded internally, and employs fibre optic gyroscopes that are 40 mm in diameter, representing a first for iXblue. iXblue manufactures every element of the UmiX series. He said the range of the weapon is classified.

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AFA 2021: Bell showcases three HSVTOL aircraft concepts 

23rd Sep: Bell has developed concepts of three jet-powered High-Speed Vertical Take-off and Landing (HSVTOL) aircraft, which it promoted at the Air Force Association's (AFA's) annual conference with a pair of large illustrations. Jeff Nissen, Bell senior manager of advanced technology, told Janes on 21 September at the conference that the company has designed a Heavy, a Medium multirole capability, and a Light aircraft. Bell designed the aircraft around speed, range, and survivability: jet-like cruise speeds over 400 kt, range to meet specific operations, runway independence and hover endurance, and survivability to operate in contested environments. AFWERX, in partnership with the US Air Force and US Special Operations Command, launched the HSVTOL Concept Challenge to advance solutions to achieve optimal agility in austere environments. Critical mission profiles include infiltration and exfiltration of special operations forces (SOF) and equipment, personnel recovery, aeromedical evacuation, and tactical mobility, according to an AFWERX statement.

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Expanding focus: Rotary-wing swarming UAVs from China's Ziyan  

23rd Sep: China's Zhuhai Ziyan Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Co Ltd has designed several rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the past few years with a focus on small, low-cost modular systems with high autonomy, ad hoc networking, and dispersed operations. These developments also include integrating miniaturised weapon systems and fire-control systems. The company promotes all-electric Ranger P2X, Blowfish A2, and Blowfish A3 UAVs, which are updated versions of previously designed Ranger, Parus, Infiltrator, and Blowfish A1 UAVs. The current range of UAVs can be operated from land and sea, stationary and moving decks, and beyond-visual-ranges. The swarm-capable UAVs can operate in high altitudes with autonomous flight modes that adapt to various operating environments. Materials like Kevlar, aluminium-magnesium alloys, nano self-healing materials, and composites enable the UAVs to adapt to temperatures from -20°C to 65°C.

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Attritable partner: XQ-58A Valkyrie aims to redraw the combat air power cost curve

23rd Sep: In July, approximately five years after Kratos Unmanned Systems Division was selected to build and test an experimental stealthy low-cost unmanned combat air system (UCAS) in partnership with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), it was announced that the first XQ-58A Valkyrie was formally retired after flying for approximately four hours in its three flight tests. Despite its short lifespan, the prototype Valkyrie demonstrated the fundamentals of an altogether new unmanned combat air capability and helped convince Kratos to self-fund an initial production programme to meet latent customer demand.

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WB Group unveils W2MPIR swarming UAV system 

22nd Sep: Poland's WB Group is pushing its new W2MPIR swarming unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system, which it says is designed to defeat an adversary's layered air defences. The system comprises the company's FlyEye and FT-5 Łoś (Moose) tactical reconnaissance UAVs, as well as Warmate 1 (3.0) and Warmate 2 loitering munitions. These are controlled by the Topaz integrated combat management system (ICMS). WB Group is also offering its encrypted low-emission Silent Radio Network suite – derived from the Perad radios suppled by subsidiary Radmor – to support communications between W2MPIR nodes.

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Beams of light: HEL weapon systems take to the seas

22nd Sep: It has long been predicted that the guns and guided missiles equipping naval vessels will one day be augmented and, over time, supplanted by shipborne high-energy laser (HEL) weapons. The prevailing narrative, dating back to the 1970s, was that lasers would effect a transformation in naval warfare by virtue of their near limitless magazines, extremely low per shot costs, ‘speed of light' delivery, precise and scalable effects, rapid switching between targets, and low-to-zero collateral damage. HEL weapons defeat a target either by heating the surface to the weakening point and causing it to fail under operating stress, or by burning through the surface to destroy underlying critical components and subsystems. Laser weapons can also attack energetic material in a target to cause a low-order detonation.

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Czech company ERA introduces new passive surveillance system 

20th Sep: Czech Republic's ERA introduced a new Passive Long-range ESM Surveillance System (PLESS) with a range of up to 700 km on 18 September during the opening of the NATO Days event in Ostrava. The new over-the-horizon system is capable of detecting, locating, analysing, identifying, and tracking slow-moving and stationary targets – via sources of electromagnetic radiation in the 0.1 to 18 GHz band – in a fully passive mode. According to ERA, the intercept range enables the use of signal reflection interception in the tropospheric layers. It operates on the Angle of Arrival (AoA) principle, with support for multilateration using the time difference of arrival (TdoA) principle. For the 2D location of the target, at least two separate sensors are needed, as the triangulation method is used. Direction-finding accuracy is less than 0.5° for troposcatter.

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GEOINT: Mapping the world with multisource intelligence

20th Sep: In about 1138 King Roger II of Sicily commissioned the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi to create a world map. The result, known as the Tabula Rogeriana (Map of Roger) and completed in 1154, incorporated as much information on the known world as could be gleaned from sources such as travellers and merchants, as well as agents despatched to gather material. Apart from satisfying the king's curiosity, this process gave Roger and his successors a valuable source of intelligence for a strategically placed kingdom. The Tabula Rogeriana is an early example of a geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) product, in which disparate data is presented referenced to its geographical location.

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UK to explore alternative PNT methods

17th Sep: The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a cluster of contracts under which industry will explore novel means of timing and navigation in the event of disruption to global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs). The Alternative Navigation research initiative will investigate alternative techniques to provide a position, navigation, and timing (PNT) solution in order to improve resilience to GNSS denial. GNSSs operate by computing signals broadcast from a constellation of synchronised satellites. Its use increasingly underpins precise and secure navigation for military users, but it is vulnerable to interference, spoofing, signal blockage or constellation failure that may result in GNSS denial.

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Into the big time: Dive Technologies advances DIVE-LD AUV development 

17th Sep: With the imminent delivery of the first production example of its DIVE-LD AUV (Large Displacement Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) to Canadian marine technology company Kraken Robotics, Dive Technologies is working to optimise the platform's software and hydrodynamic performance for future iterations with a team of researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University's (Virginia Tech's) Center for Marine Autonomy and Robotics.

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Defence Industry Intelligence

Case studies

September 2021

US Army works to mesh Rainmaker data fabric into ITN systems

23rd Aug: US Army engineers and information technology experts are working to integrate the Rainmaker data fabric programme into key applications within the service's Integrated Tactical Network (ITN), in preparation for a vital capstone experiment later this year. Officials from the army's Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center are co-ordinating with members of the service's Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team (LRPF CFT), to shorten sensor-to-shooter data transmission times via Rainmaker and other data fabric systems, said C5ISR Center Deputy Assistant Director for Information Dominance Alan Hansen.

Janes Analysis: The further maturation of data fabric technology like Rainmaker and the air force's Data One programme is indicative of the US armed forces' move toward domain-agnostic, software-centric, open domain architecture-driven combat communication systems.

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Continuous revolution: The rise of Composite Rubber Track technology

23rd Aug: Composite Rubber Track (CRT) is an alternative to traditional segmented steel tracks for armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) that has some substantial operating benefits. The design of CRT is complex and composite in nature, with more than 12 separate rubber compounds, as well as a range of metal, plastic, and fabric reinforcing elements. In broad terms, CRT is typically comprised of approximately 49% rubber, 29% steel, and 22% composites.

Janes Analysis: The commercial landscape for CRT is potentially lucrative, given it is addressable to essentially all AFVs that are less than the 55,000 kg GVW limits of contemporary CRT systems. It is also surprisingly devoid of competition, perhaps owing to the highly specific technical challenges of achieving the right chemical and engineering processes. Soucy Defense is the sole known supplier at present.

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GA-ASI Avenger with Lockheed Martin Legion Pod autonomously follows target aircraft

19th Aug: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), on 2 July for the first time, used its Avenger unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a Lockheed Martin Legion Pod modular infrared search-and-track (IRST) system to autonomously track and follow targets of interest. During this industry-funded, 1.4 hour-long demonstration, the Legion Pod's IRST21 system detected multiple fast-moving aircraft and fed target tracking information to the Avenger's autonomy engine, according to a company statement. GA-ASI spokeperson Mark Brinkley, said on 17 August that the relative speed between the Avenger and tracked aircraft varied depending on their respective velocities and aspect angles between them.

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Avoiding the jam: Developing new solutions to complement satellite navigation

19th Aug: For armed forces operating in contested battlespaces against peer adversaries, multidomain platforms must be capable of accurately employing position, navigation, and timing (PNT) data without reliance upon Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSSs). Ground and air vehicles, surface and sub-surface vessels, and precision-guided munitions will need to operate in anti-access/area-denial environments where enemy forces can rapidly and effectively jam and disrupt space-based and terrestrial connectivity. A US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, ‘Defense Navigation Capabilities', published on 10 May, said the Department of Defense (DoD) is considering how best to develop its own PNT technologies to complement GNSS, including GPS, to overcome this emerging threat.

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The need for speed: Emerging UAV designs take on operations beyond the sound barrier

19th Aug: Rudimentary high-speed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) capable of breaching the sound barrier have existed since the 1950s in the form of target drones designed to simulate a range of airborne threats and they have been widely used to support self-defence and target training for air, land, and naval forces since. For example, air forces use such systems as threat-representative targets for testing and evaluating new air-to-air weapon systems and support air-to-air combat training for aircrews. Navies use supersonic target drones to enable surface warfare crews to hone their ability to detect, track, and neutralise simulated incoming threats such as supersonic anti-ship missiles. Land forces have also employed target drones to train against various aircraft and missile threats.

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Information advantage: Europe pursues ‘combat cloud' technology developments

18th Aug: As European armed forces seek to adapt in the information age, industry across the continent is developing combat cloud computing solutions.Early developments are being led by multinational efforts to design and develop a sixth-generation of combat aircraft, including the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and the UK-led Tempest that includes support from Italian and Swedish governments. On 24 June, for example, Hensoldt announced it would be demonstrating a new combat cloud solution in September as part of a capability being developed under the Future Combat Mission System (FCMS) consortium that also includes Diehl Defence, ESG, and Rohde & Schwarz.

Janes Analysis: European defence companies concede the continent is lagging behind the US Department of Defense in terms of fielding a multidomain combat cloud capability.

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Sentinel air-defence radar to receive M-Code capability 

16th Aug: Lockheed Martin and Orolia Defense & Security will begin integrating mission timing and synchronisation units, capable of transmitting via Military Code (M-Code) signal, into the US Army's Sentinel A4 air and missile defence radar system. Officials from Orolia delivered the initial shipment of M-Code-enabled SecureSync rack-mounted synchronisation platforms to Sentinel prime integrator Lockheed Martin in May, for implementation into the newest tranche of Sentinel A4 air defence radar systems. “SecureSyncwith M-Code provides enhanced resilient positioning, navigation, and timing [PNT] capabilities and improved resistance to existing and emerging GPS threats, such as jamming and spoofing,” according to a statement issued by Orolia.

Janes Analysis: Operational performance of M-Code capabilities aboard the army's Sentinel air defence radar will provide much-needed mission feedback on how those capabilities perform in combat environments.

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US Army seeks blockchain technology to manage combat data 

16th Aug: US Army engineers at the service's Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center are leveraging blockchain technology for a new tactical-level data management capability. Development of the new data management capability is part of the centre's Information Trust programme and was one of several prototype technologies tested during the ground service's Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX), held at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey in May.

Janes Analysis: The US Army's experimentation with blockchain applications that meet data management requirements at the tactical level could prompt further integration of the technology into current and future battlefield situational awareness solutions.

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US ARL eyes ‘nanoarchitectures' for lighter, stronger materials  

13th Aug: US Army-funded researchers have developed a new lightweight, resilient material with potential uses in armour, protective coatings, and space systems. The research focused on nano-architectured materials and ultralight structures that are formed using precisely patterned nanoscale trusses, which are engineered architectures that are imparted to a material. It was conducted at the US Army's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with researchers from Caltech and ETH Zürich. The researchers fabricated a repeating pattern  called a tetrakaidecahedron, which is a lattice configuration composed of microscopic struts, through the use of two-photon lithography.

Janes Analysis: ARL has long focused on developing novel and enhanced materials; for example, last year it announced that it had funded an effort to develop self-healing materials inspired by the natural proteins in squid ring teeth.

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South Korea develops new reactive materials to enhance explosive power of projectiles 

12th Aug: South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) announced on 10 August that it has locally developed new reactive metal materials designed to enhance the explosive power of projectiles upon impact. The agency said in a statement that this reactive material structure consists of a compound of non-explosive solid powders that “explode like gunpowder” when subjected to high-temperature and high-pressure conditions. This can be used to increase the total effective yield of a weapon, if, for instance, the reactive material is used as the casing for a weapon with a conventional explosive warhead.

Janes Analysis: The new materials provide South Korean manufacturers with an avenue for the development of new higher-yield explosive weapons than is presently possible within the limitations of a conventional casing.

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KRET unveils Sapfir C-UAV system 

12th Aug: Russia's KRET electronic concern, a subsidiary of state-owned corporation Rostec, has developed a new counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) system called Sapfir (Sapphire), Vladimir Mikheev, adviser to KRET's First Deputy Director, told Janes in late July. According to Mikheev, the Sapfir C-UAV system can be manufactured in both stationary and mobile configurations. The mobile variant of the C-UAV system comprises up to four detection-and-jamming stations, while the stationary mast-based variant typically integrates between three and four search/direction finding stations and a jamming module. “The mobile Sapfir can be based on almost any medium automotive vehicle,” said Mikheev. The Sapfir is designed to detect, recognise, and disrupt reconnaissance micro/mini-UAVs and loitering munitions. It works in semi-automated mode with manual control option, if required, or in fully automatic mode without the need for operator input.

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Navy League 2021: US Navy touts Integrated Digital Shipbuilding

6th Aug: The US Navy (USN) will be counting on Integrated Digital Shipbuilding (iDS) to cut costs and more effectively build and sustain ships, according to Kevin Cormier, the USN Ford-class aircraft carrier deputy programme manager. Construction of aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 80), which is now 10% complete at the Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia, will constitute the first use of the iDS Model-Based Enterprise (MBE) approach to shipbuilding using 3D product models for full lifecycle use, Cormier said in a 3 August briefing at the Navy League 2021 Sea-Air-Space exposition in Maryland. Speaking during a 2 August briefing at the same conference about Enterprise – whose schedules include a keel laying in February 2022 and a delivery in 2028 –Newport News Shipbuilding president Jennifer Boykin said, “This is the first-ever nuclear carrier building using tablets.”

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AFRL sets sights on follow-on HPM weapon prototype 

04th Aug: The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has revealed plans to develop a new high-power microwave (HPM) weapon system prototype, building on the Tactical High-Power Operational Responder (THOR) technology demonstrator. Named Mjolnir, after Thor's hammer, the new system is intended to demonstrate advances in HPM technology for the counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) mission. Disclosing first details of the programme on 29 July, AFRL said a request for proposals is pending for industry. The THOR system was developed by BAE Systems in partnership with Leidos, Verus Research, and AFRL. Designed to disable electronics in multiple UAVs, providing a capability against swarm attacks, the system is housed in two standard 20 ft containers that can be deployed by air and assembled by a crew of just two.

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Interference on SAR imagery offers tool for OSINT analysis

04th Aug: Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities on Sentinel-1A/B (S1A/S1B) satellites operated by the European Union's Earth Observation Program – Copernicus – have been used by open-source intelligence (OSINT) analysts since S1A was launched on 3 April 2014. S1B followed on 25 April 2016. SAR analysis has become increasingly popular because of social media and the ability to share findings easily among groups of like-minded OSINT analysts. The data collected by the satellites can be freely accessed using several platforms such as Copernicus's own Open Data Hub, the Sentinel EO Browser, and Google Earth Engine.

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NSWC Dahlgren develops decision aid for high-energy laser fire control

03rd Aug: Engineers at the US Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) have designed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based decision aid designed to assist sailors operating high-energy laser (HEL) weapon systems. The High Energy Laser Fire Control Decision Aid (HEL FCDA) is intended to improve response time and accuracy. Development has been informed by a NSWCDD user performance study to optimise human-machine teaming. The US Navy is currently introducing a first generation of HEL weapons to frontline service. These include the AN/SEQ-4 Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN), and the 60+ kW class MK 5 Mod 0 High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS). Whereas ODIN is designed to dazzle or disrupt the sensors fitted to unmanned aerial systems (UASs), the higher power HELIOS is intended to defeat both small boat and UAS threats. 

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Technical hurdles remain in DEW counterspace applications 

03rd Aug: Russia's apparent test of a co-orbital satellite kill system in July 2020 underlined many countries' interest in improving their counterspace activities. Several countries – including China, India, Russia, and the United States – have demonstrated this capability, ranging from ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) systems to the deployment and operation of co-orbital systems. The need to defend space-based assets is of high importance given the reliance placed on them for both civilian and military purposes. Previous studies of space-based energy weapons have tended to focus on missile interception, but Russia's demonstration clearly showed that it is developing space capabilities with its Kosmos-2542, Kosmos-2543, and Object 45915 inspector satellite combination.

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US Army working on cloud, data mesh capabilities for CPCE 

03rd Aug: The US Army officials are exploring ways to integrate cloud computing and mesh networking capabilities into the service's Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE) system, as programme officials are in the midst of implementing cyber awareness applications in the platform. CPCE officials and their counterparts at the army's Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) directorate are working to evaluate the Rainmaker mesh data fabric application for artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled data networking and management capabilities on the CPCE.

Janes Analysis: The recent success army officials had in demonstrating the CPCE's interoperability with allied forces is a positive signal for the command post software's continued integration to the Mission Partner Environment (MPE).

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August 2021

Analysis: Checkmate looks to fill gap in emerging light fighter market – 11 Aug

Sukhoi's Su-75 Checkmate light fighter has projected performance characteristics and a competitive price tag that appear to make it an attractive option. However, this does not mean that the Checkmate is guaranteed success in an increasingly crowded market, writes Hamilton Cook. With arms deals continuing to be a major source of capital for the Russian government, particularly during times of oil volatility, Sukhoi recently unveiled the Su-75 Checkmate: a lighter single-engine combat aircraft designed to compete in the emerging light fighter market. This marks a distinct pivot in fighter sales strategy for Sukhoi and its parent company, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). Over the past decade that strategy was built around sales of Sukhoi's flagship fighter, the Su-30 ‘Flanker', and its forthcoming advanced variant, the Su-35 ‘Flanker-E'. It also focused on sales to countries looking for affordable fighter aircraft solutions, countries with internal hesitation or restrictions on defence technology transfers with the United States, or countries with longstanding trade relationships dating back to the Soviet era. Already a Janes customer? Read more HERE.

India's DRDO develops system to counter micro and mini UAVs – 30 Jul

Indian Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt confirmed on 28 July that the government-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a system designed to detect, track, and neutralise micro and mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Janes Analysis: India's DRDO has been collaborating for years with public and private-sector companies as well as technical institutions to develop DEWs, including a 100 kW laser, to meet emerging security challenges in the region. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Machine speed warfare: UK tests naval AI decision aids in ASD/FS-21 exercise – 27 Jul

The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Royal Navy (RN) have completed at-sea operational experimentation (OpEx) to evaluate two prototype artificial intelligence (AI)-based tactical decision aids designed to accelerate and improve command team situation awareness and threat analysis for above-water warfare. Janes Analysis: Dstl is pursuing complementary AI research and experimentation through its Intelligent Ship project, which is aimed at demonstrating ways of bringing together multiple AI applications to make collective decisions, with and without human operator judgement. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Face off: Developing the next generation of anti-tank technology – 21 Jul

As armed forces consider how best to operate against highly capable, peer adversaries, the ability to defeat heavily armoured vehicles and main battle tanks (MBTs) has once again risen to the fore. European and North American ministries and departments of defence (DoDs) are calling upon academia and industry to design and develop next-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) technologies; concepts of operation; and tactics, techniques, and procedures. Janes Analysis: The proliferation of APSs, camouflage, concealment, and deception in armoured platforms provides MBTs, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and artillery platforms with the ability to neutralise anti-armour threats. However, as technology has yet to mature, there is still potential for anti-tank munitions to cause significant damage across the modern battlefield. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

First footage of Russia's S-500 air defence system released - 21 July

The first footage of the Almaz-Antey S-500 Prometey (‘Prometheus') air and missile defence system (GRAU designation 55R6M), shown conducting a test launch, has been released by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) via a video published on its YouTube channel on 20 July.The missile shown being launche d was reported to have successfully intercepted a “high-speed ballistic target” during test firings at the Kapustin Yar range, about 100 km east of Volgograd, according to the video. Once tests are complete, the system is to enter service with air defence formations in the Moscow region, the video added. Janes Analysis: The completion of the S-500 system's development has been expected for a long time, with initial news regarding the project surfacing around 2009. This footage comes after a 28 June announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia's new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile, and the S-500 system were all due to enter service shortly. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Future soldier: US Army squads to become integrated combat platforms - 20 Jul

The US Army's dismounted soldier system programmes are starting to bear fruit as new capabilities are fielded. Major General Anthony Potts, programme executive officer – soldier (PEO-Soldier), speaking at the SMi Future Soldier Technology USA virtual conference in early June, said momentum picked up when the army changed its approach to equipping the dismounted infantry soldier to treating the squad as an integrated combat platform and the soldier as an integrated weapons platform. Janes Analysis: A number of technology strands are being pulled together as part of ASA's development and it looks as though the result could become a step change in dismounted capability, particularly as far as C2 and SA and everything that flows from that is concerned. The training benefits that could accrue from IVAS may take a little longer to be realised while the STE technology and architecture is put in place. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Chem-bio experiments: DTRA taps user feedback for new technologies – 19 Jul

To counter chemical and biological dangers, the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is supporting a range of advances in detection, digital battlespace, protection, and mitigation technologies. Its annual Chemical and Biological Operational Analysis (CBOA) event has a direct impact in the area, connecting developers with the personnel who will deploy their systems. Janes Analysis: While the feedback from CBOA is necessarily candid, the event's organisers stress that it should not be viewed as a “pass/fail” scenario. Instead, the goal is to provide a learning environment where CB technologies can be improved. According to Smith, he wants “to provide an atmosphere where we provide opportunities to improve the effectiveness or utility of CB-centric technologies and capabilities”. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

MDA, SDA satellite efforts look to mature RF, optical broadband capabilities – 16 Jul

The recent launch of small satellite platforms by the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Space Development Agency (SDA) represent milestone moments in the department's effort to advance networked, space-based radio frequency (RF) and optical broadband communication capabilities. Janes Analysis: Development of improved, space-based RF and optical broadband communication capabilities will likely play a vital role in the department's Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative and the US Army's Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) doctrine. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

US Navy hones USV operational and technological concepts – 15 Jul

Recent transits by Ghost Fleet Overlord unmanned surface vessels (USVs) have proven and honed operational and technological concepts for the USV development, US naval officials associated with the programme noted in a 13 July media briefing. Proving those concepts could go a long way toward allaying lawmakers' fears about US Navy (USN) unmanned vessel development and make long-term unmanned acquisition plans more palatable, according to a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report. Janes Analysis: Two additional Ghost Fleet Overlord prototype USVs are currently under construction and will be used to expand and accelerate the navy's experimentation and testing. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

US Army makes strides towards ‘smart uniforms' – 14 Jul

The US Army has developed a programmable fabric that it says is capable of analysing the activity status of soldiers, with plans under way to test prototypes. The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), part of the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), has a longstanding textiles-focused programme, with ‘smart uniforms' being an area of interest for about a decade. However, the efforts took a significant step forward in June, when it was announced that researchers at the army's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had developed the first fibre with digital capabilities, capable of sensing, storing, and analysing data when sewn into a piece of clothing. The research was funded by ARL. Janes Analysis: The real benefit of the smart uniforms may lie in the potential for interconnectivity, performing computational tasks on data that is generated by the fabric. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Rafael working on Sea Breaker prototype – 14 Jul

The US Army Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has developed a prototype of its new Sea Breaker stand-off missile, Janes has learned. The company announced the Sea Breaker on 30 June, saying it has a range of up to 300 km and can be used in both the anti-ship and land-attack roles, but did not say at that time what level of development it had reached. Janes Analysis: The Sea Breaker will primarily appeal to militaries looking for a compact weapon that can penetrate advanced anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Final assembly under way of four US Army ERCA platforms – 14 Jul

The US Army is assembling its first four Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) prototypes at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, and anticipates using at least one of the weapons during the upcoming ‘Project Convergence 2021' exercise. Brigadier General John Rafferty, the head of the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, told Janes on 9 July about the ongoing effort to field an incremental upgrade to BAE Systems' Paladin M109A7 self-propelled howitzer, which includes a 58-calibre, 30 ft (9.1 m) gun tube that is designed to launch 155 mm rounds out to 70 km. Janes Analysis: The army intends to deliver 18 ERCA prototypes to a battalion in 2023 for a year-long operational assessment to flesh out sustainment and logistical needs, while also as stressing the material with long-range shots. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Payload diversity: Unlocking the submarine/ocean interface – 13 Jul

Long encumbered by the constraints of the torpedo tube, the submarine community is exploring how a more flexible interface with the undersea environment could open the way to larger and more diverse payloads. Richard Scott reports. In July 1998, a report from a Defense Science Board task force on the ‘Submarine of the Future' was submitted to the US Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition & Technology). In evaluating the role and function of nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) as part of US national defence over the medium-to-long term, including the SSN's potential contribution to joint operations in the littoral, the task force made a series of recommendations and identified a number of emerging trends. Janes Analysis: Aside from a handful of highly customised ‘special mission' boats, the submarine ‘ocean interface' has remained largely unchanged over decades. With increased interest in the integration of autonomous systems, the submarine design community is now investigating various options to break the tyranny of the torpedo tube. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

South Korea develops new techniques to mass-produce palm oil-based aviation biofuel – 12 Jul

South Korea‘s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) announced on 6 July that it has developed a new manufacturing technology to mass-produce palm oil-based bio-jet-fuel as an alternative to power military and civil aircraft turbine engines, while reducing the aviation industry's overall environmental footprint. The agency said in a statement that it completed a four-year research project to develop the new techniques, which will enable the production of 5 tons of palm oil-based bio-jet-fuel per year. Janes Analysis: The ADD said it hopes that the newly developed bio-fuel mass-production technique will greatly contribute to replacing petroleum-based fuels without having to change the operating conditions and structure of existing aircraft engines. The new techniques can also be applied to other types of aviation biofuels to test their feasibility for civil jet engine applications, noted the agency. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Data sense-making rises as national security requirement – 8 Jul

The intelligence requirements of Western governments increasingly revolve around making sense of complex data, as well as penetrating an adversary's secrecy. Neil Ashdown examines how changing requirements, and the rise of open-source competitors, are affecting the work of intelligence agencies. Janes Analysis: How states respond to the three trends shaping their work will inform the evolution of their approaches to national security and the nature of intelligence work. One possibility is that agencies will respond to policymaker demands for broader sense-making capabilities by covering a much broader range of issues and emphasising analysis. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.

Australian, US universities to conduct joint research on countering cyber threats – 6 Jul

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 1 July that researchers at three Australian universities will collaborate with their US counterparts to explore the use of autonomous systems for cyber security. The DoD said in a statement that the University of Melbourne, Macquarie University, and the University of Newcastle will share AUD3 million (USD2.27 million) in funding with the University of Wisconsin as part of the Next Generation Technologies Fund's (NGTF's) Australia-US Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (AUSMURI) programme. The aim of the project will be to develop autonomous cyber-security systems through “robust and effective teaming of bots and humans”, stated the DoD. Already a Janes customer? Access full story HERE.


July 2021

Rafael unveils Sea Breaker advanced autonomous long-range missile system – 30 Jun 2021

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has disclosed the development of Sea Breaker – a new, fifth-generation, autonomous, precision-guided, long-range missile system, designed for precision engagement of emerging and next-generation maritime and land threats, stationary or moving, at ranges out to 300 km. Described by Rafael as “a naval and artillery force multiplier”, Sea Breaker is a day/night all-weather effector for use with naval platforms and shore-based launchers operating in what the company characterises as the “new battlefield”, where precision accuracy and low-collateral damage are required in a target environment protected by advanced electronic warfare, anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) and GPS/GPSS jam and denial systems. Access full story HERE.

Advancing artillery: Improving accuracy, range, and reaction time for ‘the king of battle' – 21 Jun 2021

Fundamentally, the tactical and technical employment of artillery firepower exploits the interrelated principles of mass and manoeuvre. Mass refers to the concentration of volumes of fire on a target, while manoeuvre refers to the transfer and distribution of fire rapidly from one point to another. Manoeuvre also refers to the ability to displace rapidly, which is inherent in the mobility of field artillery units, and the capability to quickly prepare for combat and place the bulk of fires where needed. Therefore, when organising for offence or planning for defence, the manoeuvrability of all elements in an artillery organisation must be considered: target acquisition assets, command-and-control (C2) systems, fire direction centres, and fire units (FUs). Planning includes the scheme of defence, manoeuvre (in offence), terrain limitations, current and planned tactical groupings, and the availability of other fire support agencies. Access full story HERE.

US Army leverages VR technology to improve combat decision making – 28 Jun 2021

The US Army is exploiting recent advances in virtual reality (VR) technology, as well as in neuro and other physiological sensors, to help understand how small teams function in extreme environments. The research was funded by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM)'s Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and led by scientists at the Electrophysiological Neuroscience Laboratory at Kent State University. It saw the development of a virtual reality lab aimed at furthering the understanding of group dynamics, an important consideration as the US military becomes more reliant on small teams, such as special operations forces. Access full story HERE.

Almaz-Antey unveils latest naval air-defence systems – 28 Jun 2021

Russia's state-owned Almaz-Antey Concern unveiled its latest range of shipborne air-defence systems at the International Maritime Defence Show 2021 (IMDS 2021), held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on 23–27 June. Resurs (Resource) is a new surface ship-borne naval air-defence system intended to engage both manned air platforms and unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), including extremely low-flying UASs, at short ranges. The system, which is capable of simultaneously engaging up to five aerial targets, comprises new effectors, a command module, and below-deck firing station and support systems. Access full story HERE.

US AFWERX eyes runway independence with Electra's blown lift eSTOL aircraft – 25 Jun 2021

The US Air Force's (USAF's) AFWERX venture is intrigued by the possibility that Electra's distributed hybrid-electric propulsion approach to blown lift could provide the service with runway-independent aircraft. Colonel Nathan Diller, AFWERX director, told Janes on 23 June that AFWERX's Agility Prime advanced air mobility vehicle effort, which has been primarily looking at electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developments, is intent to focus on runway-independent operations. Ben Marchionna, Electra director of technology and innovation, told Janes on 22 June that the company plans to have its electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft use blown lift and distributed electric propulsion (DEP) to take off with low speed in distances as short as 30.5 m, which Electra calls ultra-short eSTOL. Access full story HERE.

Altered states: Quantum systems could spawn an exotic information age – 25 Jun 2021

Quantum science seems to promise a disruptive shift in technology that armed forces and governments are eager to exploit. The first spin-based Loss–DiVicenzo quantum computer was proposed in 1997, but since then the science has experienced a resurgence of scrutiny after Canada-based D-Wave announced it had developed a 28-qubit quantum computer in 2007. “When [American mathematician Peter] Shor pioneered his algorithm [in 1994], which is basically an algorithm to factor large numbers into their primes, that is what really started the quantum computing field,” Sara Jean Gamble, programme manager in the Physics Division of the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Army Research Office (ARO), told Janes. Access full story HERE.

Images emerge of PLA's newest infantry weapons – 25 Jun 2021

Images have emerged on Chinese social media platforms showing a comprehensive line-up of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) newest infantry weapons. None of the weapons shown in the images, which were posted in early June on Weibo, feature their official military designations, although some of them are already known. The display included the 9 mm CS/LS7 sub-machine gun (SMG) that was observed during the 1 October 2019 military parade in Beijing. This weapon is thought to be meant as a replacement for the QCW-05 SMG, chambered in the 5.8 × 21 mm cartridge. Access full story HERE.

Test and verify: US Navy advances unmanned integration during ‘UxS IBP 21' – 24 Jun 2021

The US Navy's (USN's) desire to accelerate the integration of unmanned systems into its fleet was demonstrated in April when it completed a first-of-its-kind major exercise designed to demonstrate the potential advantages of multidomain manned and unmanned operations. The exercise, called ‘Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21', was conducted by the USN's 3rd Fleet off the coast of San Diego, California, from 19–26 April and demonstrated the potential advantages and challenges of fielding a hybrid force structure across various planning and operational scenarios. Access full story HERE.

Israel tests ‘groundbreaking' airborne laser – 23 Jun 2021

The Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Elbit Systems announced on 21 June that a series of tests of an airborne high-power laser system had been successfully completed. The MoD said the tests were carried out by its Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), Elbit, and the Israeli Air Force and involved several unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) targets being intercepted at various altitudes and ranges by the high-power laser weapon system. Access full story HERE.

Hanwha Systems launches development for networked unmanned SAR operations – 16 Jun 2021

South Korean defence prime Hanwha Systems is set to lead a consortium comprising industry and academic research institutes to develop technologies applicable for autonomous underwater and unmanned surface vehicles (AUV and USV)-based wide-area search-and-rescue (SAR) operations. The project, known locally as ‘Development of AUV and Operation Systems for Cluster Search', was launched by the Korea Institute of Marine Science and Technology Promotion (KIMST) on 11 June and is worth about KRW25 billion (USD22 million). KIMST aims to complete this project by 2025. Access full story HERE.

South Korea to deploy rail-mounted robot, AI-based surveillance systems to enhance border security – 16 Jun 2021

South Korea plans to deploy two new surveillance systems later this year to enhance round-the-clock border security amid heightened tensions with neighbouring North Korea. The country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a 16 June statement that the systems – a rail-mounted robot and an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled video and audio system – are being acquired through a fast-track procurement process and will initially be introduced as part of six-month-long trials starting in October (for the AI-based system) and December (for the rail-mounted system). Access full story HERE.

Chinese air force applying artificial intelligence to air combat training – 16 Jun 2021

The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology in pilot training by China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has progressed to use in simulator training, according to a 12 June report published in the PLA Daily newspaper. The paper wrote that pilot Fang Guoyu, who was described as a “group leader in a brigade under the PLA Central Theatre Command Air Force”, was pitted in the simulator against an opponent driven by an AI-equipped system. Access full story HERE.

StrikeShield armour: Rheinmetall details its new distributed APS – 11 Jun 2021

Hungary is to be the first customer for Rheinmetall's StrikeShield hybrid armour solution, Gáspár Maróth, government commissioner for development of Hungary's armed forces, said in May. Rheinmetall confirmed on 18 May that the approximately EUR140 million (USD170 million) contract will provide the StrikeShield active protection package for the majority of Hungary's 209 Lynx armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), which the country agreed to procure in 2020 for EUR2 billion. StrikeShield is a modular, distributed, hard-kill active protection system (APS) incorporated into a spaced passive armour package for the Lynx tracked infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) application. It is designed to be installed onto medium-weight AFVs such as the Boxer 8×8 or Lynx. Access full story HERE.

Ghost Fleet Overlord programme completes second long transit with unmanned surface vessel – 8 Jun 2021

The Pentagon's Defense Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) and US Navy (USN) conducted a second long-range autonomous transit with a Ghost Fleet Overlord unmanned surface vessel (USV) from the US Gulf Coast, passing through the Panama Canal, to the US West Coast, the US Defense Department confirmed on 7 June. The unmanned vessel Nomad travelled 4,421 n miles, 98% of which was in autonomous mode, the Pentagon said. The first Ghost Fleet Overlord vessel, Ranger , completed a similar transit in October 2020. Access full story HERE.

Titanis C-UAS capability to employ hard-kill, soft-kill, and directed-energy solutions – 7 Jun 2021

Australian company Electro Optic Systems (EOS) has unveiled a scaleable, fully integrated counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) capability that employs soft-kill, hard-kill, and directed-energy effectors. Launched at the Land Forces 21 exposition in Brisbane and based on the EOS R-series remote weapon station (RWS), Titanis combines detection, command-and-control (C2), and layered capabilities to acquire, track, and defeat all types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including fixed-wing platforms and ‘Class 3' quadcopters weighing up to 600 kg. Access full story HERE.

Hanwha to develop laser oscillator for air-defence system – 1 Jun 2021

Hanwha Corporation announced on 31 May that it has secured a contract to develop a laser oscillator for use in future, laser-based short-range air-defence weapon systems designed to primarily engage unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The company said in a statement that the KRW24.3 billion (USD21.9 million) contract, which was awarded by the country's Agency for Defense Development (ADD), is aimed at developing a prototype within four years. The laser oscillator plays a key role in generating the laser beam and determines the performance of the laser weapon. Access full story HERE.

June 2021

Rafael unveils Sea Breaker advanced autonomous long-range missile system

30th June: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has disclosed the development of Sea Breaker – a new, fifth-generation, autonomous, precision-guided, long-range missile system, designed for precision engagement of emerging and next-generation maritime and land threats, stationary or moving, at ranges out to 300 km. Described by Rafael as “a naval and artillery force multiplier”, Sea Breaker is a day/night all-weather effector for use with naval platforms and shore-based launchers operating in what the company characterises as the “new battlefield”, where precision accuracy and low-collateral damage are required in a target environment protected by advanced electronic warfare, anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) and GPS/GPSS jam and denial systems. 

 

Advancing artillery: Improving accuracy, range, and reaction time for ‘the king of battle'  

21st June: Fundamentally, the tactical and technical employment of artillery firepower exploits the interrelated principles of mass and manoeuvre. Mass refers to the concentration of volumes of fire on a target, while manoeuvre refers to the transfer and distribution of fire rapidly from one point to another. Manoeuvre also refers to the ability to displace rapidly, which is inherent in the mobility of field artillery units, and the capability to quickly prepare for combat and place the bulk of fires where needed. Therefore, when organising for offence or planning for defence, the manoeuvrability of all elements in an artillery organisation must be considered: target acquisition assets, command-and-control (C2) systems, fire direction centres, and fire units (FUs). Planning includes the scheme of defence, manoeuvre (in offence), terrain limitations, current and planned tactical groupings, and the availability of other fire support agencies.

US Army leverages VR technology to improve combat decision making

28th June: The US Army is exploiting recent advances in virtual reality (VR) technology, as well as in neuro and other physiological sensors, to help understand how small teams function in extreme environments. The research was funded by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM)'s Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and led by scientists at the Electrophysiological Neuroscience Laboratory at Kent State University. It saw the development of a virtual reality lab aimed at furthering the understanding of group dynamics, an important consideration as the US military becomes more reliant on small teams, such as special operations forces. 

 

Almaz-Antey unveils latest naval air-defence systems 

28th June: Russia's state-owned Almaz-Antey Concern unveiled its latest range of shipborne air-defence systems at the International Maritime Defence Show 2021 (IMDS 2021), held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on 23–27 June. Resurs (Resource) is a new surface ship-borne naval air-defence system intended to engage both manned air platforms and unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), including extremely low-flying UASs, at short ranges. The system, which is capable of simultaneously engaging up to five aerial targets, comprises new effectors, a command module, and below-deck firing station and support systems. 

US AFWERX eyes runway independence with Electra's blown lift eSTOL aircraft 

25th June: The US Air Force's (USAF's) AFWERX venture is intrigued by the possibility that Electra's distributed hybrid-electric propulsion approach to blown lift could provide the service with runway-independent aircraft. Colonel Nathan Diller, AFWERX director, told Janes on 23 June that AFWERX's Agility Prime advanced air mobility vehicle effort, which has been primarily looking at electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developments, is intent to focus on runway-independent operations. Ben Marchionna, Electra director of technology and innovation, told Janes on 22 June that the company plans to have its electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft use blown lift and distributed electric propulsion (DEP) to take off with low speed in distances as short as 30.5 m, which Electra calls ultra-short eSTOL. 

Altered states: Quantum systems could spawn an exotic information age

25th June: Quantum science seems to promise a disruptive shift in technology that armed forces and governments are eager to exploit. The first spin-based Loss–DiVicenzo quantum computer was proposed in 1997, but since then the science has experienced a resurgence of scrutiny after Canada-based D-Wave announced it had developed a 28-qubit quantum computer in 2007. “When [American mathematician Peter] Shor pioneered his algorithm [in 1994], which is basically an algorithm to factor large numbers into their primes, that is what really started the quantum computing field,” Sara Jean Gamble, programme manager in the Physics Division of the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Army Research Office (ARO), told Janes. 

Images emerge of PLA's newest infantry weapons  

25th June: Images have emerged on Chinese social media platforms showing a comprehensive line-up of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) newest infantry weapons. None of the weapons shown in the images, which were posted in early June on Weibo, feature their official military designations, although some of them are already known. The display included the 9 mm CS/LS7 sub-machine gun (SMG) that was observed during the 1 October 2019 military parade in Beijing. This weapon is thought to be meant as a replacement for the QCW-05 SMG, chambered in the 5.8 × 21 mm cartridge. 

Test and verify: US Navy advances unmanned integration during ‘UxS IBP 21' 

24th June: The US Navy's (USN's) desire to accelerate the integration of unmanned systems into its fleet was demonstrated in April when it completed a first-of-its-kind major exercise designed to demonstrate the potential advantages of multidomain manned and unmanned operations. The exercise, called ‘Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21', was conducted by the USN's 3rd Fleet off the coast of San Diego, California, from 19–26 April and demonstrated the potential advantages and challenges of fielding a hybrid force structure across various planning and operational scenarios. 

Israel tests ‘groundbreaking' airborne laser  

23rd June: The Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Elbit Systems announced on 21 June that a series of tests of an airborne high-power laser system had been successfully completed. The MoD said the tests were carried out by its Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), Elbit, and the Israeli Air Force and involved several unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) targets being intercepted at various altitudes and ranges by the high-power laser weapon system. 

Hanwha South Korea to deploy rail-mounted robot, AI-based surveillance systems to enhance border security 

16th June: South Korean defence prime Hanwha Systems is set to lead a consortium comprising industry and academic research institutes to develop technologies applicable for autonomous underwater and unmanned surface vehicles (AUV and USV)-based wide-area search-and-rescue (SAR) operations. The project, known locally as ‘Development of AUV and Operation Systems for Cluster Search', was launched by the Korea Institute of Marine Science and Technology Promotion (KIMST) on 11 June and is worth about KRW25 billion (USD22 million). KIMST aims to complete this project by 2025. 

South Korea to deploy rail-mounted robot, AI-based surveillance systems to enhance border security 

16th June: South Korea plans to deploy two new surveillance systems later this year to enhance round-the-clock border security amid heightened tensions with neighbouring North Korea. The country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a 16 June statement that the systems – a rail-mounted robot and an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled video and audio system – are being acquired through a fast-track procurement process and will initially be introduced as part of six-month-long trials starting in October (for the AI-based system) and December (for the rail-mounted system).

Chinese air force applying artificial intelligence to air combat training  

16th June: The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology in pilot training by China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has progressed to use in simulator training, according to a 12 June report published in the PLA Daily newspaper. The paper wrote that pilot Fang Guoyu, who was described as a “group leader in a brigade under the PLA Central Theatre Command Air Force”, was pitted in the simulator against an opponent driven by an AI-equipped system. 

StrikeShield armour: Rheinmetall details its new distributed APS 

11th June: Hungary is to be the first customer for Rheinmetall's StrikeShield hybrid armour solution, Gáspár Maróth, government commissioner for development of Hungary's armed forces, said in May. Rheinmetall confirmed on 18 May that the approximately EUR140 million (USD170 million) contract will provide the StrikeShield active protection package for the majority of Hungary's 209 Lynx armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), which the country agreed to procure in 2020 for EUR2 billion. StrikeShield is a modular, distributed, hard-kill active protection system (APS) incorporated into a spaced passive armour package for the Lynx tracked infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) application. It is designed to be installed onto medium-weight AFVs such as the Boxer 8×8 or Lynx. 

Ghost Fleet Overlord programme completes second long transit with unmanned surface vessel  

08th June: The Pentagon's Defense Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) and US Navy (USN) conducted a second long-range autonomous transit with a Ghost Fleet Overlord unmanned surface vessel (USV) from the US Gulf Coast, passing through the Panama Canal, to the US West Coast, the US Defense Department confirmed on 7 June. The unmanned vessel Nomad travelled 4,421 n miles, 98% of which was in autonomous mode, the Pentagon said. The first Ghost Fleet Overlord vessel, Ranger , completed a similar transit in October 2020. 

Titanis C-UAS capability to employ hard-kill, soft-kill, and directed-energy solutions 

07th June: Australian company Electro Optic Systems (EOS) has unveiled a scaleable, fully integrated counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) capability that employs soft-kill, hard-kill, and directed-energy effectors. Launched at the Land Forces 21 exposition in Brisbane and based on the EOS R-series remote weapon station (RWS), Titanis combines detection, command-and-control (C2), and layered capabilities to acquire, track, and defeat all types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including fixed-wing platforms and ‘Class 3' quadcopters weighing up to 600 kg. 

Hanwha to develop laser oscillator for air-defence system 

01st June: Hanwha Corporation announced on 31 May that it has secured a contract to develop a laser oscillator for use in future, laser-based short-range air-defence weapon systems designed to primarily engage unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The company said in a statement that the KRW24.3 billion (USD21.9 million) contract, which was awarded by the country's Agency for Defense Development (ADD), is aimed at developing a prototype within four years. The laser oscillator plays a key role in generating the laser beam and determines the performance of the laser weapon.

May 2021

US Army demonstrates MUOS capability for tactical radios 

3rd May: US Army tactical radio and networked communications specialists demonstrated, for the first time, the ability to integrate Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) capability to mounted and dismounted radio platforms. The implementation of MUOS capability into the army’s tactical manpack radio system variants “provided additional beyond the line-of-sight communications … and leverage the ability to fully dominate both the data and voice spectrum”, during the exercise, said Colonel Rob Ryan, chief of operations for Army Future Command’s Network Cross-Functional Team.

 

Advanced C2 software suite clears critical USAF milestone 

3rd May: An early variant of a new, advanced suite of combat management tools and software under development for the US Air Force (USAF) has cleared a critical milestone, paving the way for the system’s eventual deployment to combat zones around the world. Officials at Air Combat Command and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCM) declared the Kessel Run All-Domain Operations Suite (KRADOS) for the Air Operations Center Weapon System (AOC WS) as having cleared the “minimal viable product” technology threshold.

Phantom Works-led Arctic sensor consortium to demonstrate new concepts 

5th May: The Integrated Remote Sensing for the Arctic (IRSA) Development Group (IDG) plans to demonstrate its capability for the first time from 18–25 August, consortium officials told Janes. Exercise ‘ArcticX21’, which will be controlled from the 24,000 km 2 Andøya Test Range in Norway, is to demonstrate a series of new concepts and technologies relating to multiplatform missions designed to enhance situational awareness (SA) across the Arctic.

 

Australia determining functional requirements for a next-generation IUSS

7th May: Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) has notified industry that it is continuing operational analysis and concept development to determine the functional requirements for a next-generation integrated undersea surveillance system (IUSS) for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). A request for information (RFI) for Project Sea 5012 Phase 1 will follow no later than September 2021, said the DoD in a recent notification, adding that this will identify key partners with requisite capabilities in design, development, and integration of undersea technology, platforms, and sensors.

Logistics and data crunching should lead AI’s first applications for allies, say officials 

7th May: Artificial intelligence (AI) will impact “everything” in the defence domain, but its application to logistics, object-motion recognition, and rapid data-crunching should be among its first goals, officials and policy analysts said at a virtual conference on the topic hosted by the Center for European Policy Analysis on 4 May. “AI is such a foundational technology that it will affect all it touches, not just a weapons system or sensor, but especially how data is collected and digested,” said Gilman Louie, head of the US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. “When you are at the algorithm-vs-algorithm level, it is all or nothing.

South Korea aims to develop small ground reconnaissance robot 

10th May: South Korea is aiming to develop small ground surveillance/reconnaissance robots for deployment in “high-risk areas” such as the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), underground facilities, and tunnels, the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 10 May. The agency said that it has invited research institutes as well as local and foreign companies to submit proposals by 30 June for a project aimed at determining the robot’s design, its power supply, as well as its “object recognition and tracking technology”, which is expected to be highly capable as well as energy efficient.

Lockheed Martin, Pentagon establish bi-directional communications between fifth-generation aircraft, ground units 

10th May: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and the Pentagon for the first time established bi-directional communications between fifth-generation aircraft in flight while also sharing operational and sensor data to ground forces during a recent test, according to a company statement on 3 May. This flight test, named Project Hydra, linked a Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, five Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs), and a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor in the air and provided real-time fifth-generation data to operators on the ground.

The last mile: UASs in the logistics chain 

11th May: The way that unmanned aerial systems (UASs) have influenced recent conflicts and will influence future ones is driving armed forces to compete in a domain that is dominated by emerging technologies. As part of these efforts, some forces have begun to test the feasibility of deploying UASs as part of their logistics chains. The efficient delivery of supplies to frontline units over what is termed ‘the last mile’ has been a constant challenge for armed forces. Last-mile delivery refers to the distance between the end of the main supply chain, where supplies are usually carried by truck or helicopter to platoon- or squad-sized units.

Advanced manufacturing: AMCOM aims to leverage digital innovations 

17th May: The US Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) is pursuing a range of innovations in advanced manufacturing, underpinned by digital technologies. While the initial aim is to support maintenance and sustainment efforts for its fleet of Black Hawk helicopters, AMCOM envisages significant implications for such concepts across its systems in the coming years. In mid-2020 the command announced a partnership with Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), under which the latter will create a ‘digital twin’ of a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter.

RF revolution: Advances in digital phased arrays 

17th May: Digital phased arrays (DPAs) can support multiple functions – from radar to communications – with increased accuracy and precision. While they are not a new concept, a range of military and defence organisations have made significant progress in the technology in recent years, notably in reducing DPAs’ size, weight, and power (SWaP) demands. Phased arrays enable operators to steer radio waves quickly to detect platforms such as aircraft, although there are also applications in areas like acoustics. In DPAs, the formation and steering of the beam is conducted in the digital domain, with digitisation occurring at every antenna element.

Networked approach: The future of chemical and biological detection 

19th May: Detecting and identifying chemical and biological threats has long been a priority for the US armed forces and its allies, but the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the focus on such dangers and on the technologies to counter them. Experts point to a growing emphasis on integrated networking, with the aim of more quickly transmitting information on potential threats and readying a response. There are numerous potential threats within the broader chemical and biological space, both manmade and naturally occurring, ranging from anthrax to plague to potentially devastating viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

The bleeding edge: Tactical AI reaches the digital battlefield 

19th May: US armed forces are looking to close the gap between the laboratory and the battlefield, in terms of developing and fielding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, by rapidly integrating AI-enabled technologies into combat platforms and pushing algorithm development, testing, and training down to the tactical level. AI development at the tactical and operational level has so far focused on two major initiatives. One has been advancing computing hardware and applying AI-enabled capabilities to address rear echelon operations from maintenance and supply logistics to processing.

USSOCOM’s HEO project spins off two official programmes 

19th May: The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) will transition a pair of emerging capabilities associated with the Hyper Enabled Operator (HEO) concept into Programs of Record, (POR) director of science and technology Lisa Sanders told Janes. The capabilities, which include what was originally called beyond line of sight (BLOS) communications and an integrated situational awareness tool, have been explored over the past 12 months by USSOCOM’s Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF) in collaboration with the US Army Special Operations Command.

USSOCOM eyes digital engineering for next-gen Dry Combat Submersible 

21st May: US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) may utilise digital engineering to design its next-generation Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) concept, officials disclosed this week. Speaking to Janes from the virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC), USSOCOM’s Acquisition Executive Jim Smith said DCS-Next (also referred to as DCS Block II) would be a “great candidate” for a digital engineering solution, based on lessons learned developing the original DCS programme. Development of the first generation DCS saw USSOCOM leasing an S301i dry manned submersible from Lockheed Martin before contracting the same company to construct a pair of prototypes following feedback from US Naval Special Warfare (NSW).

Iran unveils 'Gaza' UAV 

24th May: Iran has revealed a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) seemingly based on the US-built General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper. The ‘Gaza', as the UAV has been named in reference to the Palestinian territory, was unveiled on 21 May in series of images and videos posted by state-affiliated media organisations. “Today, with divine success and the efforts of the country's scientists and experts, we are witnessing the unveiling of three strategic and important achievements that were born and created under the conditions of sanctions and maximum pressure of the enemy,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) aerospace force, was quoted by national media as saying, noting that one of the three achievements is the Gaza UAV.

Indonesia's ‘tank boat' prototype undergoes sea, weapon trials 

24th May: Indonesian state-owned company PT Pindad announced on 23 May that the recently launched ‘Antasena Tank Boat' prototype has undergone a series of sea and weapon trials in waters off East Java. The company said that the 18 m-long catamaran-type vessel, which was developed by an Indonesian consortium led by PT Pindad, test-fired its 30 mm automatic cannon at the Indonesian Navy's (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut's, TNI–AL's) Paiton weapons range after having travelled there from Banyuwangi. The prototype vessel, which was launched on 28 April, then returned to Banyuwangi, with PT Pindad saying that the total distance travelled for the trials amounted to 170 n miles.

South Korea launches new military technology agency 

24th May: South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 21 May the formal inauguration of its new agency to support the development of the country’s defence technology and industry base. DAPA said the remit of the Korea Research Institute for Defense Technology Planning and Advancement (KRIT) is to modernise the country’s system for defence technology planning and management, strengthen the domestic defence industry, increase the international competitiveness of South Korean military technologies, and support industrial expansion in overseas markets.

US AFWERX would ‘love’ jet speed in new High-Speed VTOL Challenge 

24th May: The US Air Force’s (USAF’s) AFWERX venture wants to achieve jet speed with platforms proposed through its new High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing (HSVTOL) Challenge, but recognises that high speed comes with high costs. “We would love to have that speed,” Colonel Nathan Diller, AFWERX director, told Janes on 21 May. “[But] speed is obviously expensive. Trying to find … the knee in the curve for the business case is really something that we are exploring.”

US Army approves initial Tactical Space Layer capability requirements

24th May: The US Army is pressing forward with plans to develop a new network of space-based tactical sensors and ground stations, as senior service brass continue talks with US Space Force (USSF) counterparts on how to divvy up space requirements and capabilities for future conflicts. Officials from the army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team (APNT/Space CFT) have signed off on an Abbreviated - Capability Development Document (A-CDD) for the Tactical Space Layer (TSL) programme.

US Army preps for TITAN ground station experimentation

24th May: US Army officials are preparing to implement a full-scale experimentation plan for new ground stations designed for the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN) programme, with service leaders anticipating development of a full-on TITAN ground station by 2022. The TITAN ground station platform, as envisioned, will consolidate functionalities of several legacy fixed and mobile ground stations, and then fuse the collected data from various ground, aerial, and space-based sensors into a single station, according to Willie Nelson, director of the army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team (APNT/Space CFT). That capability will also be scalable to support all echelons from brigade to division, Nelson added.

SEAS 2021: Serbia’s indigenously-developed Pegaz UAV takes-off in China

24th May: Serbia’s tactical-class Pegaz (Pegasus) multirole unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been redesigned with Chinese assistance and has already made its first flights in China, Nenad Miloradović – the assistant minister for material resources in the Serbian Ministry of Defence (MoD) – revealed during the online/hybrid Southeast Europe Aviation Summit (SEAS 2021) in Belgrade on 18 May. Miloradović provided a video showing several sequences of the UAV taking off, operating at low altitudes, and landing in clean and armed – with dummy underwing rockets – configurations.

IRGC unveils short-range SAM

25th May: Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) unveiled a new, shorter-range version of its 3 Khordad surface-to-air missile (SAM) system on 21 May. Often compared to the Russian Buk family of mobile SAM systems, the 3 Khordad was unveiled in 2014 and credited with shooting down a US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle flying over the Gulf of Oman at a range of a 70 km on 20 June 2019. Named after a Persian date like the 3 Khordad, the new 9 Dey variant that was displayed used what looked like an identical transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) unit but with two pods, each with four smaller missiles in cannisters, attached to its three missile-launch rails.

Rules of behaviour: Orbital warfare

25th May: As the ultimate high ground, space-based capabilities undeniably provide integral support to defence, intelligence, and security services. Robust and capable space-based services, such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, provide global command-and-control (C2) facilities to militaries that enable enhanced situational awareness via the monitoring and tracking of both friendly forces and threats. “Although space started off as a strategic domain, today it is very much used for operational and tactical advantage on the battlefield,” Kestutis Paulauskas, senior strategy officer of NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, stated in a March 2020 article, ‘Space: NATO's latest frontier'.

South Korea's ADD develops laser-power enhancing technology

25th May: South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) announced on 25 May that it has developed a laser-power enhancing technology for use in future weapon systems, with the most immediate application being a laser-based air-defence system. The agency said in a statement that the technology combines multiple lasers with different wavelengths into a single beam, which is understood to refer to a technique known as spectral beam combining. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA)-led project, which began in 2015 and was completed in 2020, saw the ADD apply the spectral beam-combining technology to a 1 kW-class laser module and manage to integrate five 1 kW-class fibre lasers into one 5 kW-class high-quality laser module.

Turkey's AUSV armed unmanned surface vessel test fires Cirit missile

27th May: Turkey's first indigenous armed unmanned surface vessel (AUSV), Sida, hit a target during its first test firing of a missile during exercise ‘Sea Wolf 2021', which is being held in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean Seas from 25 May to 6 June, the Turkish Ministry of Defence tweeted on 27 May. In a separate tweet on 27 May, İsmail Demir, head of Turkey's Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), identified the missile fired as the laser-guided Cirit. Ares Shipyard and Meteksan Defence, which developed Sida, tweeted on 23 April that the AUSV will come soon in an anti-submarine warfare variant.

DroneShield introduces tethered airborne C-UAS capabilities

31st May: Australian company DroneShield is integrating its DroneSentry-C2 command-and-control system and a miniaturised radar into tethered unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), the latest step in the counter-UAS (C-UAS) specialist’s efforts to expand its work into new technological domains. DroneSentry-C2 provides operators with a range of functions. It has a graphic user interface (GUI) that compiles large amounts of environmental data for the user, reducing reaction and response times, and offering an early warning system and growing detection threat capacity as more data is processed, according to the manufacturer. It provides a live monitoring capability and the capacity to manage a site from any location, while it can also interface with soft kill C-UAS effectors such as radio frequency (RF) jammers.

April 2021

AEUK delivers autonomous route survey capability for Project Wilton 

30 Apr: Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK) has completed deliveries to the UK Royal Navy’s (RN’s) new Project Wilton autonomous route survey capability, the company announced on 30 April. Based at HM Naval Base Clyde, and forming part of the RN’s first Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Squadron, Project Wilton is a peacetime MCM route survey capability assembled from a mix of assets including crewed and uncrewed surface craft, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and side-scan sonar equipment, as well as a portable command centre (PCC) and associated communications. 

Russia developing new parachute platform for heavy loads 

30 Apr: Russian industry is developing a new multirole parachute platform for heavy payloads for the country’s Airborne Troops (VDV), the head of the VDV’s airborne training department, Colonel Vladimir Kvash, told the Ministry of Defence’s Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper on 28 April. “Because the VDV is being equipped with new wheeled vehicles, the UMPP unified multirole parachute platform for airdropping systems and cargoes weighing up to 18 tonnes is being developed,” said Col Kvash. 

Boeing launches Australian technology project 

30 Apr: Boeing has entered a new arrangement with the Australian state government of Queensland to identify new small businesses in the region to develop next-generation aerospace technologies. Boeing said on 29 April that its ‘Boeing HorizonX’ initiative, which will run for three years, will focus on partnering selected new businesses in a series of prioritised capability themes including advanced robotics, space, Industry 4.0 techniques, sustainability, and autonomous systems. 

US Navy puts unmanned integration to the test 

28 Apr: The US Navy (USN) has completed a major Pacific Fleet exercise designed to demonstrate the operational pay-offs realisable through the closer integration of multidomain manned and unmanned capabilities. Known as ‘Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21’, the exercise was executed by the US 3rd Fleet from 19 to 26 April under the command of Rear Admiral James Aiken, commander, Carrier Strike Group Three. 

UAVOS performs test flight of experimental turbulence payload 

28 Apr: UAVOS carried out the test flight of an experimental turbulence detection payload on its HiDRON stratospheric glider on 1 April. UAVOS’ operators launched the HiDRON from a high-altitude balloon at 23,900 m/78,412 ft. A launch routine was tested in which the HiDRON transitioned from free-fall to stable horizontal flight at 23,100 m/75,787 ft. The payload was a combination of forward-sensing turbulence detection technologies developed by the University of Kentucky (UK) and a US federal agency that UAVOS declined to specify. 

InstantEye Robotics demonstrates Gen 5 Echo palm-sized UAV at US Army AEWE 

30 Apr: InstantEye Robotics demonstrated its Mk-3 Gen5-D1/D2 (E) Echo palm-sized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the recent US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE). Mike Mackiewicz, the director of operations at InstantEye Robotics, told Janes on 26 April that the Echo is an enhanced version of the company’s Generation 5 aircraft and has the Gluon 640x512 long-wave infrared (LWIR) imaging camera, which is a military-only sensor in development. 

Nexter unveils ASCALON, its concept for next-generation main battle tank armament 

23 Apr: Nexter on 14 April unveiled its concept for the next generation of main battle tank (MBT) armament, which it has designated ASCALON (Autoloaded and SCALable Outperforming guN). Nexter is pitching the ASCALON concept as an open architecture solution, forming the basis of a future joint development for the main armament requirement of the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). MGCS is aimed at replacing the French Leclerc and German Leopard 2 MBTs about 2040. 

Invisible crew: Autonomy tech promises step change for next-gen USVs 

27 Apr: Until recently, naval forces appeared content with employing relatively small unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) – generally 11 m long or shorter – with correspondingly limited endurance, range, and payload capacity. While some of these small USVs are multirole, the majority are used in confined waters as technology demonstrators for concept development and experimentation, or are limited to a narrow scope of applications, such as coastal patrol; environmental survey; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); mine countermeasures (MCM); and port and/or force protection. 

South Korea announces development of radar technology capable of detecting stealth fighters 

27 Apr: South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) announced on 27 April that it has completed development of a high-power, high-sensitivity radar technology capable of detecting and tracking fighter aircraft with a low radar cross section (commonly known as stealth fighters). The agency said in a statement that the new, indigenously developed capability uses “active phased arrays, and high-performance/high-speed software technology that captures weak signals against noise”. 

Iran unveils mini turbojet engine 

27 Apr: Iran unveiled during an exhibition for new defence technology developments a micro turbojet engine that is similar to the ones used in surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) found in shipments of suspected Iranian arms that the US Navy intercepted en route to Yemen. Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the military’s deputy chief for co-ordination, was seen inspecting three of the turbojets in media coverage of the exhibition on 25 April. Identified as the Ranesh-1, the engine was reportedly developed to power unmanned aerial vehicles, light aircraft, and missiles. 

Digital-twin strategy seeks AI development at the tactical edge 

26 Apr: The US Department of Defense is looking at implementing the so-called ‘digital twins’ of combat platforms alongside their real-life counterparts during the ongoing operations to push artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm and capability development close to the tactical edge. The strategy is rooted in the idea that programme officials can create a digital or virtual reality duplicate of a given combat system, and allow that digital copy access to the same AI processes and applications that the real-world version of the system utilises during a given combat rotation. 

Europe’s armed forces seek to pinpoint needed ‘emerging disruptive technologies’ 

23 Apr: Europe’s defence ministries plan to identify a common set of emerging disruptive technologies (EDTs) to develop for military application, although they differ over whether the technologies should be retrofitted to legacy systems or integrated into next-generation systems. “We are finalising an action plan to identify, research, and develop the most strategic EDTs, which should be ready by end of 2021,” said Jean-Francois Ripoche, head of research, technology, and innovation at the European Defence Agency (EDA). 

ZALA Aero unveils hybrid engine UAV and GPS-independent UAS navigation 

23 Apr: The Kalashnikov Group’s ZALA Aero unveiled the ZALA 421-16E5G unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a hybrid powerplant and a navigation system for unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) that does not depend on GLONASS/GPS satellite navigation at a press event in Moscow on 14 April. Designed for reconnaissance and surveillance missions, the hybrid engined UAV has a swept wing with a 4.64 m wingspan. The hybrid powerplant is located in the UAV’s tail section and its internal combustion engine rotates the electric generator, powering the electric motor while also charging the battery. 

Interoperable alliance: A4ESSOR presses for new NATO standard radio waveform 

22 Apr: Europe’s A4ESSOR consortium has disclosed a series of measures designed to further improve and expand software-defined radio (SDR) communication. Launched in 2009 to explore the future of “coalition interoperability”, the consortium, which is responsible for enhancing the interoperability of European armed forces, is led by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) and features the ‘national champions’ of European participating states. These include Bittium (Finland), Thales (France), Leonardo (Italy), Radmor (Poland), Indra (Spain), and Rohde & Schwarz (Germany). 

Heavy armour: Developing the future infantry fighting vehicles 

21 Apr: In the near term, the vast majority of the infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) market is focused on modernising legacy vehicles, or buying modernised versions of existing designs, rather than developing and fielding entirely new vehicle designs of a ‘next-generation’ nature. Perhaps most successful in the contemporary landscape, in market value and established user base, has been the CV90, which is used by nine countries and has been developed into more than 35 fielded variants and 20 developmental versions. 

E-scanning from sea to shore: AESA surveillance radar family evolves 

20 Apr: As demands increase for domain awareness over land and sea, Leonardo’s UK-based Advanced Radar and Targeting Systems business has latterly grown and updated its portfolio of X-band active electronically scanned array (AESA) surveillance radars to address the market across two broad fronts. In the first case, the company in 2016 launched its novel Osprey multimode AESA radar family as a cost-effective ‘multidomain’ airborne surveillance system. Flexible in configuration and installation, the system’s compact and lightweight flat-panel antenna architecture was designed to circumvent the installation constraints associated with rotating antennas, and open up installation opportunities for a variety of fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and unmanned air platforms. 

DARPA selects research teams for WARP programme 

19 Apr: The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have officially selected several research teams to lead the agency’s work in developing technologies to expand and enhance wideband software defined radio (SDR) capabilities across the US armed forces. The teams, consisting of participants from industry and academia, “will explore a diverse set of technology approaches” in the field of wideband radio frequency (RF) interference cancellation for current and future SDR platforms, as part of the Wideband Adaptive RF Protection (WARP) programme, agency officials said in a statement

Tiny threats: Guarding land formations against micro-UAVs 

16 Apr: The democratisation of technology has led to the adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by many non-state armed groups. Smaller UAVs have been used for a variety of roles, from reconnaissance to delivering grenades onto a target and kamikaze attacks such as those carried out against Russian aircraft stationed at the Hmeimim airbase in Syria. Similarly, Ukrainian and separatist forces modified commercial UAVs to deliver payloads during the early stages of fighting in the Donbass region. In China, the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force has fielded the DJI Phantom 4, a quadcopter UAV that can be bought for about USD2,200, to its sniper and reconnaissance teams to act as a form of extended reconnaissance. 

Smart ASW: NATO IDT integrates science and warfighting in fast operational analysis 

16 Apr: Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is among the highest-end operational taskings that navies are focused on, as peer competition and renewed naval rivalries drive increased investment in underwater capability and operations. Western navies operating in the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific theatres are developing strategic-level ASW partnerships to build a sub-surface presence. New operational- and tactical-level concepts are being constructed, such as greater focus on active ASW operations and working up approaches like multistatics. 

Dive Technologies pushes 3D printing for AUV manufacturing 

12 Apr: Massachusetts-based startup Dive Technologies is looking to leverage additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, commonly referred to as 3D printing, for large and extra-large unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) applications. Dive Technologies utilised a Cincinnati Incorporated Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) 3D printer for the external hull fairings and smaller 3D printers for the internal components of their DIVE-LD autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). BAAM is an industrial-grade 3D printer that uses an extruder placed on a gantry system to create parts using materials such as high-performance thermoplastics, engineering grade thermoplastics, consumer grade thermoplastics and additives. 

US Navy seeks GPS alternatives for hypersonic weapons 

10 Apr: The Department of the Navy is seeking prototype proposals for a non-GPS-based position, navigation, and timing (PNT) system, that will eventually be integrated into the sea service’s future arsenal of hypersonic weapons and platforms. The solicitation, issued by the navy via a Request for Solutions (RFS) notice by the Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS) other transactional authority (OTA), has yet to be formally released to industry for response. But programme officials noted in the presolicitation notice that recent advances in electromagnetic interference technologies prompted navy leaders to seek PNT alternatives outside GPS. 

DARPA issues contracts for WiSPER secure comms development 

8 Apr: The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded contracts to three companies to investigate and develop wideband secure and protected radio interface technologies for next-generation tactical radios. The respective contracts, awarded in late March to CACI, Perspecta Labs, and Northrop Grumman, cover work under the agency’s Wideband Secure and Protected Emitter and Receiver (WiSPER) programme. CACI’s cost-plus-fixed fee award is valued at USD11.2 million, while Perspecta Labs received a USD19.2 million contract, and Northrop Grumman’s is worth USD18 million. 
March 2021

Disruptive Technology

Tokyo urged to increasingly focus on high-power microwave- and laser-based weapons

29 Mar: The Japan Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) has urged Tokyo to increasingly focus on the development of advanced military technologies such as high-power microwave- and laser-based weapon systems to help counter the growing missile threat posed by neighbouring countries. Such technologies will most likely become a “game changer” in the field of missile defence, enabling Tokyo to shoot down multiple missiles simultaneously while drastically lowering the cost per intercept attempt compared with current technologies, said the NIDS think tank in its ‘East Asian Strategic Review 2021’.

AI development, training at the tactical edge inches towards reality

17 Mar: The ability for networked communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and other artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled end-user platforms to update and enhance their embedded AI algorithms, based on the data collected on the battlefield in real time, could soon be a reality. The current slate of AI-enabled tools and associated algorithms being integrated into deployable combat and intelligence platforms for US Armed Forces and government agencies can execute “inference at the edge”, as in predictive analysis of collected data to narrow down a list of potential options or outcomes for a combat commander, said Booz Allen Hamilton vice president Justin Neroda.

EDA studying ‘Predator suit’ adaptive camouflage systems

17 Mar: The European Defence Agency (EDA) is considering how future soldier technologies could support adaptive camouflage systems to better protect dismounted personnel, industry officials said. Speaking as a member of the EDA’s Adaptive Camouflage for the Soldier (ACAMS II) consortium at SMI’s virtual Future Soldier Technology conference in March, Dr Max Winkelmann, signatorics scientist at Fraunhofer IOSB, explained that battle management systems (BMSs) and soldier modernisation ensembles could be combined to create adaptive camouflage.

To see, or not to see: Thermal imagers advance but trade-offs abound

12 Mar: Nearly all armed forces require thermal imaging sensors. For many, though, the type of thermal imager selected will hinge upon an array of influencing factors and desired outcomes. Available technologies include the cooled medium-wave infrared (MWIR) imagers, the preferred choice for long-range applications and tropical climates, as well as cooled and uncooled long-wave infrared (LWIR) imagers. Silent Sentinel, a British company that manufactures thermal imagers, has developed a range of LR advanced thermal cameras, which merge the capabilities of cooled and uncooled thermal imaging optics.

DRDO completes test milestone for fuel cell AIP system

10 Mar: India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has achieved a major milestone in the development of an indigenous fuel cell-based air-independent propulsion (AIP) system planned for retrofit to the Indian Navy’s Project 75 Kalvari-class submarines. In a 9 March statement, India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that a land-based AIP prototype had successfully demonstrated both endurance and maximum power performance. Introduction of an AIP system will enable the Project 75 boats – based on the Scorpene design developed by France’s Naval Group – to significantly extend submerged endurance at slow speed.

China outlines technology priorities for ‘new era’

08 Mar: The Communist Party of China (CPC) has released more details about its plans to accelerate military modernisation during the country’s 14th Five Year Plan (FYP). A new draft of the 2021/25 plan issued on 6 March at the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing said priorities during the “new era” featured new military technologies, skills and training, and a shift towards “intelligentisation”. The draft – published by the People’s Daily, the CPC’s official mouthpiece – also highlights the significance that China will place on military-civil fusion (MCF) over the coming five years in supporting capability developments and China’s efforts towards self-reliance.

Air Innovation

Insitu advances UAV hydrogen fuel-cell technology

26 Mar: Boeing subsidiary Insitu has revealed fresh details about its ongoing work to advance hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The company said in a 21 March statement that it has successfully completed the first fill test of a liquid hydrogen (LH 2) storage tank designed for its ScanEagle 3 mini-UAV. The trial – which was carried out at Washington State University’s Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HyPER) laboratory in February – comprised liquid hydrogen fill, pressure, and vapour generation testing.

DroneShield aims to further exploit AI for C-UAS development, introduces updated products

25 Mar: DroneShield will focus on upgrading its artificial intelligence (AI)-based detection and classification software in the coming years to develop an increasingly flexible approach that reduces reliance on data libraries, company officials told Janes in late March. The Australian company– which specialises in countering potential threats like unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and even in areas such as signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic warfare (EW) – rolled out its first fully machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI)-based software to all existing customers in February as part of its quarterly software update programme.

Turbulence simulation: New techniques advance US Army research

15 Mar: New US Army Research Office (ARO)-sponsored work could enable armed forces and industry to more accurately simulate turbulence at a lower cost than current methods, holding significant implications for developing helicopters, missiles, and various defence technologies. The Coherent-vorticity-Preserving Large-Eddy Simulation (CvP-LES) was developed by researchers at Purdue University in Indiana, with funding from ARO, part of the US Army Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory (ARL).  

Analysis: Lockheed Martin’s Speed Racer effort about fast design changes for different missions

04 Mar: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ Speed Racer unmanned flight vehicle digital engineering pilot project is about quickly configuring the vehicle for different missions desired by a customer, according to experts. Lockheed Martin released an image of the Speed Racer on 11 February. The same day, company spokesperson Ananda Costa said that the company was expecting delivery of Technical Directions Inc engines imminently, at which point the company would move into ground testing.

Boeing’s ‘Loyal Wingman’ UAV makes maiden flight

02 Mar: Boeing Australia has successfully conducted the maiden flight of the ‘Loyal Wingman’ unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) it is developing in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the company announced on 2 March. The first military aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years flew for an undisclosed time under the supervision of a Boeing test pilot who monitored the aircraft from a ground control station at the Woomera range complex in South Australia.

Naval Detection

Hitting the sweet spot: Balancing manned and unmanned inputs to boost ASW

24 Mar: Since the advent of submarines, navies have had to account for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) concepts and capabilities. Today, as adversaries of Western navies increasingly recognise a submarine’s tactical, operational, and strategic utility, ASW is resurfacing as a core, high-end capability delivering advantages in the underwater domain and more widely at sea. A new factor in the ASW equation are unmanned systems, especially, although not exclusively, unmanned surface vessels (USVs) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

ONR explores USV power-generation concepts

24 Mar: The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) is launching a new science and technology effort aimed at advancing the development of power-generation systems suitable for long range/long endurance unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). Aimed at maturing technologies and techniques at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3-4, the Robust Unmanned Platform Power Systems research thrust is aligned to the US Navy’s (USN’s) interest in developing low cost, high endurance reconfigurable USVs that can accommodate various payloads.

Magnetic attraction: MAD seeks a comeback for airborne ASW

12 Mar: While airborne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) assets have traditionally relied on active and/or passive acoustics for area search, detection, classification, and localisation, the contribution to be made by other sensors should not be ignored. For example, maritime surveillance radars utilising specialist small target detection modes are capable of picking up raised periscopes or masts, while electronic support measures systems can intercept and direction-find on radar and/or communications transmissions.

Uncharted waters: NAVSEA steams into a new cyber arena

08 Mar: Red flags concerning long-standing gaps in network security at US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the wider service raised in 2019 prompted command officials to stand up a new directorate in April 2020 to oversee development of cyber capabilities and contingencies associated with the service’s digital transformation efforts. “We are looking hard at everything to do with cyber and shoring up our systems quite a bit,” said Vice Admiral Jeffrey Trussler, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2/N6), during an Intelligence and National Security Alliance-sponsored event in Washington, DC, in January.

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Technology Summary An overview of Janes Technology reporting. Here you will find a summary and curation of the most recent content derived from Janes Defence: News Module.