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May 5, 2021 | International, Land

Here’s who just became GM Defense’s new president

After a nationwide search, GM Defense has chosen a new president as its prepares to produce over 2,000 Infantry Squad Vehicles for the U.S. Army at its new Concord, North Carolina, plant.

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  • France Creates Space Command To Help Bid To Be Third Space Power

    August 1, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    France Creates Space Command To Help Bid To Be Third Space Power

    By Thierry Dubois Luch Olymp, a Russian satellite, is French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly’s favorite enemy. Last year, she revealed it had, in 2017, moved into close proximity to Athena-Fidus—a Franco-Italian satellite used for military communications—and tried to intercept its signal. The French military have kept a close eye on Luch Olymp. “I can’t resist telling you the latest—it left a business card to another eight satellites belonging to various countries,” she says. The French government uses Luch Olymp as an example of the mounting threats against the country’s space-based assets. A feeling of vulnerability was the basis for the government’s decision, announced last year, to devise a space defense strategy. Now officially unveiled, it includes developing patrol satellites and space-based directed-energy weapons. The move confirms the trend for nations to consider space as an additional theater of operations for future conflicts. In the U.S., President Donald Trump signed off on a detailed plan on how to organize military space in February. The document, dubbed Space Policy Directive-4, proposes the creation of a sixth military service focused on space. The House and Senate are in agreement that a separate space service is necessary, but they are at odds on the details. Both chambers will enter conference this summer to hash out the specifics and are hopeful an agreement will be reached this fall. Last year, a report on worldwide threats to Congress stated that Russian and Chinese anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons would probably become operational within the next few years. “Both countries also are advancing directed-energy weapons technologies for the purpose of fielding ASAT weapons that could blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors, such as those used for remote sensing or missile defense.” Referring to China and the U.S., Parly says she believes in France asserting itself as the world’s third space power. A space command with an initial 220 personnel will be created Sept. 1. One of its roles will be to establish French space doctrine. The operations center of the space command is to open in 2024 in Toulouse, where it is expected to benefit from local synergies with the space industry. As the space command will be part of the French Air Force, the latter is to become the Air and Space Force (Armee de l’Air et de l’Espace). The space command to be integrated into the air force will replace the existing Joint Space Command, created in 2010. The Joint Space Command did help French forces with their space ambitions, says Parly. However, it is believed not to be effective because of a lack of unity in the command chain and the development of a military space policy, as well as geographically scattered sites. “Space is a new front,” Parly says. She earlier requested the integration of cameras into the Syracuse 4A and 4B communications satellites, due to be launched in the early 2020s. The cameras will monitor the satellites’ close environment. Parly wants to see nanosatellites patrolling in orbit as soon as 2023. They will be used to detect threats and may also carry high-power lasers. Such weapons, which may also be integrated into France’s “valuable” satellites, will be able to “dazzle” a threatening spacecraft, says Parly. France is behind in high-power lasers, she admits, but she is confident the country’s research laboratories and OEMs will catch up. In fact, aerospace research center ONERA has already conducted a test that temporarily made inoperative the optical sensors of an Earth-observation satellite at the end of its life. According to a report by two members of the French National Assembly, ONERA could build a system that would make such sensors inoperative permanently. ONERA is also taking part in the TALOS project. Launched last year by the European Defense Agency to create high-power laser beam weapons, TALOS is led by CILAS, an ArianeGroup subsidiary. Other ideas for “active defense” include repurposing systems currently developed under a European Space Agency program to remove debris from orbit, using a net or harpoon. France’s military programming law for 2019-25 already includes €3.6 billion ($4 billion) for the renewal of satellites—such as launching the CSO Earth-observation satellites. Parly announced another €700 million will be added over that period. They will be used, among other expenditures, to create demonstrators. “Full capacity” of the space command is expected in 2030. On the ground, the existing Graves radar, which monitors low Earth orbit, will be upgraded in 2022. Parly has requested its successor deliver an initial operational capability in 2025, sooner than initially planned. Eventually, it will have to detect an object “the size of a shoe box” at 1,500 km (930 mi.). Debris is a concern, as well as illegal launches such as that of Swarm Technologies’ picosatellites last year. The government is counting on European cooperation, especially with Germany and Italy, to make future surveillance equipment and weapons affordable.

  • UAE and Israeli firms to collaborate on counter-drone system

    March 15, 2021 | International, Aerospace, Security

    UAE and Israeli firms to collaborate on counter-drone system

    The bilateral cooperation comes in the wake of the Abraham Accords signed Sept. 15 between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, highlighting a new era of diplomatic relations and potential defense agreements between the two countries.

  • Deep Learning Model Speeds Up, Automates Satellite Image Analysis

    June 7, 2019 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    Deep Learning Model Speeds Up, Automates Satellite Image Analysis

    Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) develops satellite imagery recognition system using open-source deep learning libraries to quickly identify and classify objects or targets in large areas across the world, potentially saving image analysts countless hours manually categorizing and labeling items within an image. Global Automated Target Recognition runs in the cloud, using Maxar’s Geospatial Big Data platform (GBDX) to access Maxar’s 100 petabyte satellite imagery library and millions of curated data labels across dozens of categories that expedite the training of deep learning algorithms. Fast GPU’s let GATR scan a large area very quickly, while deep learning methods automate object recognition and reduce the need for extensive algorithm training. GATR teaches itself what the identifying characteristics of an object area or target, for example, learning how to distinguish between a cargo plane and a military transport jet. The system scales quickly to scan large areas, including entire countries. GATR uses deep learning techniques common in the commercial sector and can identify ships, airplanes, buildings, seaports, and many other categories. “There’s more commercial satellite data than ever available today, and up until now, identifying objects has been a largely manual process,” said Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Space Mission Solutions. “Artificial Intelligence models like GATR keep analysts in control while letting them focus on higher-level tasks.” GATR has a high accuracy rate, well over 90% on the models we’ve tested so far. It only took two hours to search the entire state of Pennsylvania for fracking sites – that’s 120,000 square kilometers “I’m not an expert on what oil production sites are, and I don’t have to be,” said Mark Pritt, senior fellow at Lockheed Martin and principle investigator for GATR. “This system teaches itself the defining characteristics of an object, saving valuable time training an algorithm and ultimately letting an image analyst focus more on their mission.” GATR builds on research Pritt’s team pioneered during a Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) challenge, called the “Functional Map of the World.” The Lockheed Martin team was the only team from a company who placed in the top five.

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