Tamir Eshel

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The upcoming Zuhai airshow taking place in China next month will provide an opportunity to get first impressions of the new stealth jets and modernized fighter aircraft currently under development or recently delivered to the People's Republic of China Army, Air Force, Navy.

The Xian Y-20 is expected to be displayed at this year's Zuhai airshow, along with China's new stealth fighter - the J-31, bot are currently in flight testing.

The Xian Y-20 is expected to be displayed at this year’s Zuhai airshow, along with China’s new stealth fighter – the J-31, bot are currently in flight testing.

China is expected to unveil its newest stealth fighter next month at the 10th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition to be held next month in Zuhai. The J-31 stealth fighter will be shown to the public in demonstration flight, Chinese officials informed. China is intending the J-31 for export markets, initially as a land based fighter, the stealth plane could also evolve later into a carrier based ‘naval configuration’, thus positioned directly as a competitor for the F-35.

J-31 is expected to show for the first time at the 2014 Zuhai air show in China.

J-31 is expected to show for the first time at the 2014 Zuhai air show in China.

Still in an early prototype stage, the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter is expected to enter production in five years. As a smaller and lighter aircraft, compared to the Chengdu J-20, the J-31 has the potential to become the next carrier-borne combat aircraft type to serve on board the future Chinese aircraft carriers.

The J-31 made its maiden flight in 2012 and is continuing its flight testing and envelope expansion tests. Due to its high potential as an export aircraft, China is likely to make the effort to display the prototype at China’s premier biennial aviation event.

While J-31 is designed as a stealth aircraft, its systems and design is more comparable to current 4-4.5 generation fighters, thus it is expected to be significantly cheaper than the US Joint Strike Fighter. The prototype is currently powered by two Russian made RD-93 afterburning turbofan but production versions are expected to use the Chinese developed WS-13A, delivering 20 percent more power.

The new-generation heavy military transport aircraft Xian Y-20 Kunpeng, independently developed by China, will also debut at Zuhai. With the maximal takeoff weight of 220 tons and the loading capacity of over 66 tons, the Y-20 is the largest aircraft developed by China. The Y-20 had its maiden flight less in 2012 and is expected to be fielded with the Chinese Army Air Force in 2016.

The airshow is expected to provide a first peek into other new jet fighters that have recently become operational with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and Navy (PLAN).

The J-10B has already been inducted to PLAAF service, as an upgraded version of the J-10. The most distinctive feature is it's different 'smile'.

The J-10B has already been inducted to PLAAF service, as an upgraded version of the J-10. The most distinctive feature is it’s different ‘smile’.

The Chengdu J-10B is an upgraded variant of the J-10 which has already entered operational service with the PLAAF and spotted by aircraft enthusiasts but has never been officially displayed in public. The aircraft integrates advanced avionics including AESA radar, helmet mounted sight, infra-red search track (IRST) and modern cockpit architecture.

The Shenyang J-15, nicknamed “Fei Sha” (Flying Shark) in Chinese, is derived from the Russian Su-33, but represents’ a Chinese improved 4th-generation fighter integrating technologies already implemented by China in the J-11B. It is currently positioned as China’s current carrier-based fighter. To fit on carrier deck and hangars the J-15 has foldable wings and strengthened landing gear and arrester hooks and redesigned high-lift devices.

The land based Shenyang J-16 is a new model of the multi-mission J-11, which was based on the Russian Su-30 design. The main improvements introduced in the J-16 are the AESA radar technology and advanced beyond visual range (BVR) air/air missiles that can independently and simultaneously engage multiple targets. The first batch of J-16s was delivered to the PLAAF in May this year.

The J-16 represents a development of the J-11, introducing modern avionics and weaponry.

The J-16 represents a development of the J-11, introducing modern avionics and weaponry.

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Lockheed Martin and Rocketsan will collaborate on modifying the Turkish SOM cruise missile to fit into the internal weapons bay of the F-35. The Turkish Air Force currently uses the SOM cruise missiles with its F-4E and F-16 fighters.

The Turkish Air Force uses the SOM cruise missiles with its -4E and F-16 fighters.

The Turkish Air Force uses the SOM cruise missiles with its -4E and F-16 fighters.

Roketsan and Lockheed Martin signed a teaming agreement for the integration of a variant of Turkey’s new SOM cruise missile for the F-35 Lightning II. The companies agreed to jointly develop, produce, market and support SOM-J for internal carriage on the F-35 aircraft or external carriage on other aircraft. This ‘J’ version of the cruise missile will be designed to be more compact than the original design, equipper with folding control surfaces and a rocket booster.

The SOM system is an autonomous, long-range, low-observable, all-weather, precision air-to-surface cruise missile. The SOM-J variant is tailored for internal carriage on the F-35 aircraft.

This formal agreement builds on a previous announcement by Lockheed Martin last year, that the SOM cruise missile will be certified and adapted as part of the F-35 weaponry. Both SOM and Norwegian Joint Strike Missile (JSM) are expected to be available for the F-35 along with Small Diameter Bomb II (GBU-53) and Joint Stand-Off Weapon – JSOW (AGM-154C1) and Israeli Spice 1000 for internal carriage, as part of Block 4 in 2021.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Executive Vice President Rick Edwards and Roketsan Chairman of the Board Eyüp Kaptan signed the agreement. The integration of SOM as part of the weapon mix of the F-35 was one of the demands posed by the Turkish government pursuing procurement of the F-35. In May 2014 Turkey placed an order for the first two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft, but has yet to fully approve the planned acquisition of 100 aircraft. The first two Block-3F configuration will be delivered in 2018, as part of the Low Rate Initial Production-10 (LRIP-10).

The SOM is being developed by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, (TUBITAK-SAGE). The first guided flight was performed in August 2011, and followed by initial deliveries of the missile the next year. The initial version of the missile was designed to strike land targets at ranges of 180 – 250 km. Enhanced versions are also in development, offering extended range capability of 500, 1500 and up to 2,500 km. The subsonic (Mach 0.94) missile weigh 600 kg and carries a penetration or high explosive fragmentation warhead at a weight of 230 kg (507 lb). The missile has demonstrated strike precision of less than 10 meters (down to five meters) at ranges of 300 km (160 nm). It is designed to attack surface targets on land and at sea.
SOM is the first indigenous standoff attack weapon developed in Turkey. Prior to the introduction of this missile the TuAF was using the Israeli AGM-142 ‘Popeye’ standoff attack missiles on its F-4E Phantom strike fighters, which were also upgraded by Israel.

The SOM-J will de designed to fit into the internal weapons bay of the F-35 JSF.

The SOM-J will de designed to fit into the internal weapons bay of the F-35 JSF.

Israel's Elbit Systems announced yesterday that it was awarded contracts from an Asian country in a total amount of approximately $85 million.

A pilot of the Royal Thai Air Force preparing for a mission in an upgraded F-5T, wearing a DASH helmet. Note the Python IV missile on the wingtip.

A pilot of the Royal Thai Air Force preparing for a mission in an upgraded F-5T, wearing a DASH helmet. Note the Python IV missile on the wingtip.

Israel’s Elbit Systems announced yesterday that it was awarded contracts from an Asian country in a total amount of approximately $85 million; the majority of the amount will be for an avionic upgrade of F-5 aircraft, to be performed over a three year period. The balance is for the supply of electro-optic and communications systems.

While the name of the customer air force was not mentioned, Asian media sources have indicated the program is a follow-on phase of the F-5E Tigris – the modernized version of the Northrop F-5E operated with 211 squadron of the Royal Thai Air Force. Elbit Systems has already performed a modernization of part of the Thai F-5E fleet, and the current contract is likely to follow-on introducing complimentary capabilities that were not included in the original program that was limited by funding cuts.

“We are proud to have been selected to perform this aircraft upgrade program, building on our vast know-how and experience in F-5 avionics modernization projects.” Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, President and CEO of Elbit Systems commented, ”Asia-Pacific is a very important market for Elbit Systems, and we are pleased to be awarded further programs in the region, which programs benefit from the synergies across the various parts of our organization. We have witnessed a growing demand for upgrades of this nature, and we trust that further customers will follow, benefiting from a mature aircraft upgraded with market leading technologies”.

Elbit Systems has performed various F-5 upgrades in the past. The most comprehensive plan is the ongoing F-5EM/FM in Brazil, where 46 aircraft have been upgraded with SELEX Grifo F radars, INS/GPS-based navigation, Python IV and Derby air-to-air missiles, advanced electronic warfare systems, targeting pods etc. The program also extended the aircraft life span for 15 years. Among the avionics upgrades were mission computers, advanced glass cockpits featuring 3-color displays, DASH IV Helmet mounted display sight, weapon delivery and navigation systems, etc.

Under the F-5T Tigris program launched in 2003 Elbit Systems performed upgrades to 12 single seat and two twin-seat F-5E/F fighters. The Thai configuration is similar to the Brazilian, differing in the type of radar used – as the F-5T uses the Israeli Elta ELM2032. The aircraft were also equipped with Rafael’s Python IV missiles and are likely carrying Litening targeting pods on ground attack missions.

RTAF planned to upgrade 31 aircraft operated by 701 and 211 squadrons, but lack of funds reduced the amount to 15. With the introduction of JAS-39 Gripen with 701 squadron, the F-5T now operational only with 211 squadron are to remain in service at RTAF Airbase in Ubon, least until the early 2020.

Thailand is one of the last remaining air forces in Asia operating the F-5 jet fighter. Once considered the mainstay of the South Vietnamese, South Korean, Singapore and Taiwan air forces, these fighters are now being retired, replaced with versions of locally produced fighter/trainers such as AIDC (a locally built F-5 variant) in Taiwan and F/A-50 in South Korea. Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam are also maintaining some F-5Es in storage but the operational capability of these aircraft is unknown. In Singapore, the F-5s were replaced mostly with F-16s and F-15SG, leaving few of the aircraft to be used for operational training.

The Brazilian Air Force has upgraded 46 Tiger II fighters into the F-5EM configuration, armed with Python IV and Derby missiles.

The Brazilian Air Force has upgraded 46 Tiger II fighters into the F-5EM configuration, armed with Sidewinder and Derby missiles.

This configuration shows the F-5EM armed with Python IV and Derby missiles.

This configuration shows the F-5EM armed with Python IV and Derby missiles.

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Bell Helicopter and Sikorsky Aircraft displayed at AUSA 2014 full size models of the future rotary wing platforms they are proposing for the US Army.

Bell has unveiled a full scale model of the next generation tilt-rotot - V280 Valor

Bell has unveiled a full scale model of the next generation tilt-rotot – V280 Valor. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

The man difference between the V-22 and V280 designs is the absence of engine rotation in teh Valor, where only the rotors are rotated up or down. The nacelles will be built by IAI, which yesterday has joined the industry team building the future tilt-rotor aircraft. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

The main difference between the V-22 and V280 designs is the absence of engine rotation in the Valor, where only the rotors are rotated up or down. The nacelles will be built by IAI, which yesterday has joined the industry team building the future tilt-rotor aircraft. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update:

Bell unveiled here a full-scale model of its V-280 Valor, the next generation in tiltrotor aircraft the US Army is considering as a future UH-60 Black Hawk replacement for the 2030. Larger than the current UH-60 Black Hawk, but smaller than the V-22 Osprey Bell and Boeing have supplied the Marine Corps and SOCOM, V-280 represents a third-generation tiltrotor aircraft designed for the Joint Multi-Role demonstrator and Future Vertical Lift programs.

Unlike the V-22, where the entire engine and rotor are rotated up for takeoff, landing and hovering, the V-280 is designed with rotating rotors, maintaining the two engines in fixed positions on the win tips.

The V-tail showing the V280 team sign

The V-tail showing the V280 team sign. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

The V-280 Valor will be able to fly twice the range of current helicopters, cruising at 280 knots it will cover a combat range of 500 to 800 nautical miles, enabling ground forces to control much larger areas of operation. The V-280 will be able to fly 14 troop transport missions, medical evacuation, carry supplies and deliver loads more effectively using two sling loads and large six-foot wide doors.

Bell has gathered a team to build and fly test the Valor demonstrator. The company is in the detailed design phase of the V-280’s development, and the aircraft is expected to be ready for flight testing in September 2017.

Along with the assault transport tilt rotor aircraft offered to the Army, the Valor team is also suggesting an attack variant equipped with internally carried missiles, including side launching common launchers (deploying weapons sideways or to the rear, similar to aircraft gunships,  as well as forward launched guided missiles. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

Along with the assault transport tilt rotor aircraft offered to the Army, the Valor team is also suggesting an attack variant equipped with internally carried missiles, including side launching common launchers. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

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The attack version of the Valor could be deployed with weapons tubes launching sideways or to the rear, similar to aircraft gunships, as well as forward launched guided missiles. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

The MCT30 turret from Kongsberg mounted on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. As a remote controlled turret the overhead installation frees much needed space in the protected fighting compartment, while leaving the commander and gunner adequate operating space below. The turret is accessible from the hull and the gun can be reloaded manually if required; the turret could also have a hatch to enable the vehicle commander to lok out if necessary.

The MCT30 turret from Kongsberg mounted on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. As a remote controlled turret the overhead installation frees much needed space in the protected fighting compartment, while leaving the commander and gunner adequate operating space below. The turret is accessible from the hull and the gun can be reloaded manually if required; the turret could also have a hatch to enable the vehicle commander to lok out if necessary.

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The turret mounts the XM-813 automatic gun from ATK, a linkless, automatic dual feed system that can fire two types of rounds. The gun was developed for the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program and was considered for fielding with the GCV. The canon is interchangable with either 30 or 40mm barrels, having only six caliber-specific parts to replace.

While the 30mm family already has four ammunition types - HE-Incindiary, practice, HE with delay/impact fuse and HE airburst with time setting adjustment. In, the 40 mm family has only two - HE/airburst and APFSDS. ATK is in theprocess of migrating all types to both calibers.

While the 30mm family already has four ammunition types – HE-Incindiary, practice, HE with delay/impact fuse and HE airburst with time setting adjustment. In, the 40 mm family has only two – HE/airburst and APFSDS. ATK is in theprocess of migrating all types to both calibers.

The MCT30 turret has also been installed on a Doube V Hull Striker (DVH).

The MCT30 turret has also been installed on a Doube V Hull Striker (DVH). It is seen here applied with Tarian anti-RPG nets.

 

As the US Army is assessing future technologies that could maintain or increase the Brigade Combat Team's (BCT) overmatch, improve operational capability and reducing the logistical tail required for continued operation, BAE Systems presented at AUSA its vision of the Army's future technological thrust

A view from the past, provides a look into the future. BAE Systems developed this 70 ton hybrid-electric powered vehicle for the U.S. Army Ground Combat Vehicle; after the GCV program was cancelled the company has utilized the vehicle to demonstrate how the same platform could turn into a 40 ton combat vehicle, using next generation technologies that are already available today. Photo: noam Eshel, Defense-Update

A view from the past, provides a look into the future. BAE Systems developed this 70 ton hybrid-electric powered vehicle for the U.S. Army Ground Combat Vehicle; after the GCV program was cancelled the company has utilized the vehicle to demonstrate how the same platform could turn into a 40 ton combat vehicle, using next generation technologies that are already available today. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

BAE systems is displaying at AUSA the prototype it has built for the cancelled Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program few years ago. In its current incarnation as technology demonstrator, this impressive vehicle has reduced weight, trading off the large and heavy armored turret for a surrogate unmanned turret based on the company’s Mk 38 B2 unmanned turret (a U.S. version of Rafael’s Typhoon) augmented with a high power laser weapon. At a weight of about 40 tons the vehicle will be powered by a single 6R 890 turbocharged diesel engine developing over 600 kW of power at 4250 RPM, this engine is charging a high capacity Li-ion battery that has been tested and proven safe and reliable for military use.

BAE systems displayed at AUSA it's vision for the 2025 armored mobility. The platform on display is the vehicle BAE developed for the cancelled US Army Ground Combat Vehicle program. The vehicle on displayed was stripped of its original turret, carrying the Company's Mk 38 remote weapon station BAE is producing with Israel's RAFAEL for the U.S. Navy. The white module on the right side represents a high power laser weapon that can be operated by the vehicle, relying on the vehicle's powerful hybrid propulsion drive system. The laser unit comes with integral target acquisition and beam director while the turret mounts a 25 chain gun and uses the Toplite EO system for ISR and target acquisition. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

BAE systems displayed at AUSA some of the innovations it is recommending the US Army could include in it’s Force 2025 Vision. The platform on display is the vehicle BAE developed for the cancelled US Army Ground Combat Vehicle program. The vehicle on displayed was stripped of its original turret, carrying the Company’s Mk 38 remote weapon station BAE is producing with Israel’s RAFAEL for the U.S. Navy. The white module on the right side of the turret represents a high power laser weapon that can be operated by the vehicle, relying on the vehicle’s powerful hybrid propulsion drive system. The laser unit comes with integral target acquisition and beam director while the turret mounts a 25 chain gun and uses the Toplite EO system for ISR and target acquisition. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

This engine, developed by MTU provides constant charging for the hybrid drive. Two engines were necessary to drive enough power for the 70 ton GCV, but a more modest 49 ton future vehicle will require only one such engine, delivering enough power for propulsion, systems and the laser weapon.

This engine, developed by MTU provides constant charging for the hybrid drive. Two engines were necessary to drive enough power for the 70 ton GCV, but a more modest 49 ton future vehicle will require only one such engine, delivering enough power for propulsion, systems and the laser weapon. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

This high capacity Lithium ion battery pack is storing the electrical energy to power two drive engines. This power source feeds all electronic systems on board, and it also packs enough energy for bursts to drive the high energy laser weapon.

This high capacity Lithium ion battery pack is storing the electrical energy to power two drive engines. This power source feeds all electronic systems on board, and it also packs enough energy for bursts to drive the high energy laser weapon. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

Force 2025 Vision

In 2014 the US Army began the process of development and refinement of the view of how Army forces will be shaped in 2025 and beyond. Entitled Force 2025, the Army is discussing force employment; science and technology and human performance optimization; and force design. In force employment the Army defined how decentralized, distributed, and integrated operations will be conducted 10 years from now.

For the next decade the Army plans to reshape, optimise its combat units into Brigade Combat Team 2025, equipped and trained to increase their expeditionary capability these units will be globally responsive, downsized and manpower and vehicles, these elements will also be tailored to best perform as part of joint task forces in specific areas.

The vehicle is driven by two electrical engines running on AC current provided by the li-ion battery through the distribution unit seen on the right. The advantages of electrical propulsion is there is no need to run the engines when the vehicle is idle, while power bursts are managed through the regulator, when needed for performance, therefore running the diesel charger at optimal speed for maximum fuel economy. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

The vehicle is driven by two electrical engines running on AC current provided by the li-ion battery through the distribution unit seen on the right. The advantages of electrical propulsion is there is no need to run the engines when the vehicle is idle, while power bursts are managed through the regulator, when needed for performance, therefore running the diesel charger at optimal speed for maximum fuel economy. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

Among the contingencies they will be prepared for will be homeland defense, counter-proliferation operations and ability to counter advanced threats.

To meet these goals combat elements of 2025 must maintain overmatch of any opponent, forces should be modernised in mobility, protection and firepower, providing improved lethality, longer range precision and reduced footprint, size and power consumption.

Integration of robotics, particularly in manned-unmanned operations is considered a priority, as also the extension of range, particularly with aviation assets. Regardless of robotics advancements, optimisation of combat systems will also address human performance – in cognitive load engineering and performance enhancement.

Currently, TRADOC is working with Science and Technology stakeholders to identify additional technologies that can mature and be fielded to BCTs by 2025 to set the conditions that will fundamentally change the way the Army fights in the far-term.

Such technologies are assessed by their ability to maintain or increase overmatch, increase the unit’s capability above the current level and improve the unit’s self sustainability in expeditionary deployment, reducing the logistical tail required for continued operation.

This driver's position displayed at BAE Future Technology Demonstrator for the Army Force 2025 Vision at AUSA 2014 shows the drivers' display consoles, proving 120 degrees coverage, in addition, live images from side and rear cameras provide 360 vision to the driver and commander. direct vision blocks augment this indirect view with periscope vision. Five blocks are positioned just below the raised hatch line, providing 180 degrees coverage.

This driver’s position displayed at BAE Future Technology Demonstrator for the Army Force 2025 Vision at AUSA 2014 shows the drivers’ display consoles, proving 120 degrees coverage, in addition, live images from side and rear cameras provide 360 vision to the driver and commander. direct vision blocks augment this indirect view with periscope vision. Five blocks are positioned just below the raised hatch line, providing 180 degrees coverage. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update

Visual Profiler, developed by Video Inform and operationally deployed for automatic analysis of aerialimages can scan large image databases, real-time or historic, to detect targets of interest. This example shows the systems spotting pick up truck shapes vehicles using automatic detection. The system can further recognize even finer details, such as specific distinguishable details such as color, make, and unique, distinctive characteristics through automtaic-processing

Visual Profiler, developed by Video Inform and operationally deployed for automatic analysis of aerial images can scan large image databases, real-time or historic, to detect targets of interest. This example shows the systems spotting pick up truck shapes vehicles using automatic detection. The system can further recognize even finer details, such as specific distinguishable details such as color, make, and unique, distinctive characteristics through automatic processing. Photo: Video Inform.

Video Inform is introducing an advanced target detection and acquisition capability at the AUSA 2014 event, unveiling the  ‘Visual Profiler’, a cutting-edge cognitive vision technology extracting intelligence information from aerial or satellite imagery. The system can be used as a stand-alone solution or as an add-on to an existing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and imagery management system.

The Visual Profiler is empowered by a proprietary visual search engine developed by the company, providing automatic detection and profiling of targets from aerial or satellite images in real time. This capability enables the rapid delivery of intelligence information to forces in the field, thus shortening the sensor-to-shooter cycle. Unlimited by the number of target-object definition and profiling objects, the Visual Profiler can be trained to recognize specific vehicles, infrastructure and foundations. A unique interactive and intuitive user feedback mechanism continuously trains and improves the level of precision, further adapting the system for the user’s needs.

“Our Visual Profiler represents a novel approach to image understanding.” said According to Yoram Sagher, CEO, “Based on a unique cognitive vision and profiling methodology, we have tried to imitate the human object recognition process, and to achieve breakthrough performance. The solution provides extremely rapid results,enabling the delivery of intelligence data to the battlefield in real time, thus impacting the outcome while the battle is actually underway.” According to Sagher, the system has been adopted by a leading Air Force, and has received high praise.”

An image showing multi-type processing of the system, showing a specific vehicle type among other targets spotted on the roofs. Photo: VideoInform (from screen).

The system has spotted a water tank on a pickup tuck, ready to transport. Although the typical target (water tank) is mounted on roofs, the system can be taught to detect those targets even in non standard situations, thus highlighting anomalies to analysts. Photo: VideoInform (from screen).

Multiple vehicles of a specific type detected by the system in a parking lot. Video Inform photo, from display

The combination of two target types is demonstrated here, indicating specific vehicle types and their cargo.

Roboteam has introduced new systems designed to assist dismounted forces in inspection and security of urban and complex areas, using networked robotic, unmanned and unattended systems.

Roboteam unveiled at AUSA a persistent, unattended surveillance unit that provides 360 degree surveillance of a location of interest, ensuring a site inspected to be safe remained clean of hostile activity. The system integrates multiple sensors of different disciplines, with wireless communications and adequate power to remain persistent over an entire mission duration.

Roboteam unveiled at AUSA a persistent, unattended surveillance unit that provides 360 degree surveillance of a location of interest, ensuring a site inspected to be safe remained clean of hostile activity. The system integrates multiple sensors of different disciplines, with wireless communications and adequate power to remain persistent over an entire mission duration.

Roboteam has introduced new systems designed to assist dismounted forces in inspection and security of urban and complex areas, using networked robotic, unmanned and unattended systems. In addition the company unveiled the TacSA command and control system it is developing, enabling small units to link multiple sources of video, imagery, situational sensors, intelligence and operational information and share this information accross multiple users in the group.

The system can stream up to 4 video channels simultaneously, providing a complete live picture of the operational area in a server-less system using a distributed network with no single point of failure.

The Tactical Situational Awareness (TacSA) system was developed in partnership with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) for several Department of Justice and Special Operations Forces users, to meet the challenges of reliable tactical situational awareness while connecting and managing multiple dismounted forces, first responders, and systems working in the same area.

TacSA’s capabilities include real-time geo-location tracking of all operators, as well as the accessibility of the program to all users – who can all communicate with each other, and individually view ISR feeds. Users can instantly send on-map annotations, capture and share chats, pictures, and files, as well as navigation and reference points. The system also supports information sharing, including live video feed, to be shared immediately among all users, thus removing communication delays. Tailored for Roboteam’s ROCU 5 personal handheld controller – the TacSA is also configured to operate on other smart platform running Windows and Android operating systems.

Roboteam also displayed this version of MTGR robot adapted to inspect confined spaces in search for IEDs. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.

Roboteam also displayed this version of MTGR robot adapted to inspect confined spaces in search for IEDs. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.

The TacSA system works on a secure, closed, self-healing, server-less mesh network that is ideal for operating in any environment – from open desert to complex subterranean locations.

According to Shahar Abuhazira, CEO of ROBOTEAM North America, “the unique advantage of the new system is in its delivery of a complete and live picture of the arena – supporting up to four different video channels simultaneously. This capability provides unprecedented situational awareness to forces operating in the arena”.

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The TacSA is seen here shows full situational display on a large screen, and a subset or full display shared via wireless radio link with tactical users on a ROCU 5 hand held device. It can also operate on any Android smart device. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

Lightweight, mobile C-RAM radars are providing enhanced situational visibility, force protection to modern tactical forces

RADA's new MHR radar was deployed operationally during Israel's recent conflict with Gaza, during Operation Protective Edge.

RADA’s new MHR radar was deployed operationally during Israel’s recent conflict with Gaza, during Operation Protective Edge.

‘Hybrid Warfare’ insurgency rely on the integration of advanced capabilities (precision effects, command, control and coordination) while negating the military forces’ superiority in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. By denying the military the ISR producing target locations for standoff precision attacks, insurgents force a superior military power to strip out of most of its advantages, to fight the insurgents in high attrition, close-in battles, which would take a toll in time, casualties, financial cost and morale.

Facing such hybrid warfare, modern military forces are relying on small and agile elements of military or special forces to carry our the fight. These teams are often providing the coordination and target acquisition elements controlling and guiding powerful, precision effects delivered from stand-off distance by aerial or fire support. When regular combat units that are required to fight in such hybrid warfare they must be equipped with the tactical means improving their capabilities to operate in terms of uncertainty and quickly respond to surprise attacks.

New technologies are key to achieving tactical superiority, by improving force protection, regaining the manoeuvring capability necessary to generate the ‘friction’ that would draw insurgents to respond and fight, thus giving away their main advantage – stealth and surprise. Taking advantage of such ‘friction’ tactics require adequate sensors and intelligence, providing the combat forces at the lowest combat echelons with real-time situational awareness, through the use of advanced sensors, and reliable networking enabling rapid and accurate response to defeat the threats, using smart and precise weapon systems, deployed with the forward most elements and controlled by those units.

Airborne and forward deployed sensors were considered a must for such tactics, but they require complex coordination and assured air supremacy which cannot be guaranteed everywhere. While EO sensors offer an excellent capability detecting visible targets, they are quite limited in persistently covering large areas to provide early warning on incoming attacks. Radars are providing these services much more effectively, but in the past, analog-only radars could carry out those tasks one by one, as often they were tailored for specific tasks.

Air surveillance radars, even those designed to detect and track fast jets or helicopters at low altitude are not well equipped to detect small, slow flying targets such as drones, ultralight aircraft (ULA) or gliders. In contrast, ground surveillance radars, designed to detect personnel or vehicles on the ground are not capable of alerting on enemy direct or indirect fire coming at them. These services are provided by yet another type of radar – Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortars (C-RAM) radars, that provide effective early warning from such attacks, but are often quite bulky and heavy, require complex networking to distribute early warning on imminent attacks, and are often useless protecting tactical units attacked from close range by mortars or direct fire.

With digital, phased arrays becoming smaller and lighter, ‘multi-mission’ radars are reaching the field – Elta’s Multi Mission Radar (MMR), Giraffe AMB from SAAB and Northrop Grumman’s G/ATOR are all examples of tactical radars that are powerful and capable of supporting combat forces from a stand-off distance. To be affordable these systems utilise common, commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware enabling the military to deploy such systems at corps and division level, and in support of contingency operations.

Their multi-mission capability is derived by advanced signal-processing and algorithms enabling automated performance. As relatively large systems, these assets are often deployed on trucks, positioned at stationary sites to support the division area of responsibility.

While those assets are providing essential support for the division level, there is still a need for similar support provided integrally to the tactical level, particularly when operating in complex terrain where line of sight and other obstacle impair the coverage by stand-off sensors. These capabilities are now becoming available, with the appearance of radars for the manoeuvre forces.

Such tactical radars operated as an organic asset with the combat element are required to deliver threat warning in real time, enabling the troops to take cover, evade the attack or respond with effective counterstrike. To support these functions the system should be able to detect direct fire and ballistic threats, calculate the location of the source of fire and projected impact point, determining the relevance to the protected units. These radars are designed to operate on the move, and perform a multitude of missions automatically, exclusively by software control.

Israel’s defense electronics manufacturer RADA has developed a full line of such ‘manoeuvre radars’ comprising of two basic families: the Compact Hemispheric Radars (CHR) and Multi-mission Hemispheric Radars (MHR) Families. As a manoeuvre tactical radar, the CHR can be used for vehicle active protection, while some of the MHR variants provide ground based air defense, supporting VSHORAD missiles, and providing C-RAM early warning for mobile forces. Operating in static deployments MHR provides short range C-RAM alerts, conduct perimeter security applications or be used as a sectorial gap filler. Both families are based on identical, interchangeable subsystems, thus simplifying support and reducing cost.

Employing modern Active Electronically Scanned Array – AESA antennae technology, these radars provide extremely fast volume coverage performing target search, classification and tracking. Innovative angular measurements techniques are used to overcome the small antenna size, along with Pulse-Doppler processing, and digital, adaptive beam forming, enabling a single radar to monitor a wide range of threat velocities.

By electronically stirring multiple beams the radar performs track while scan over a full hemispheric coverage, including very high elevations angles, required for ballistic trajectory calculations of typical RAM targets. It also provides real-time range and angle measurement required to support APS.

These software controlled radars are offering beam forming to control the spatial coverage, order of beams and their waveform, to tailor the radar for multiple missions either as a dedicated system or an ‘all in one’ sensor, interleaving several missions over certain periods of time. Switching between missions can be programmable, predefined, upon real-time events or manual.

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AeroVironment, Inc. announced today (NASDAQ:AVAV) the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected the company and its industry team to follow its successful phase I concept design effort with a phase II preliminary design for the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN). The 12-month, $19 million phase II effort seeks to conclude with subscale flight demonstrations prior to a planned phase III award decision.

DARPA and the U.S. Office of Naval Research envision a new concept of operations using smaller ships as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAS. Tern aims to make it much easier, quicker and less expensive for the Navy and Marine Corps to deploy persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capabilities almost anywhere in the world.

AeroVironment selected industry partners with uniquely relevant experience and capabilities for the Tern program, including large aircraft avionics, ship integration and propulsion expertise. Advanced technologies form the basis of the team’s unique approach to realizing DARPA’s program objectives.

“Our team represents the best combination of relevant expertise and technology leadership to make Tern a reality,” said Roy Minson, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its UAS business segment. “Our innovative approach to achieving DARPA’s objectives for Tern holds the promise of an entirely new category of unmanned aircraft system that could operate more quickly and effectively by deploying from smaller naval vessels for longer, more distant missions. We look forward to demonstrating this new capability to help protect our naval forces and those of our allies affordably and effectively.”

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