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March 17, 2023 | International, Aerospace

Pentagon chooses Australian firm to build hypersonic test aircraft

The aircraft, which will support efforts to increase the cadence of hypersonic flight testing, is scheduled to fly for the first time in early 2024.

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  • US Air Force wants help seeing moving targets in its sensor data

    October 29, 2020 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    US Air Force wants help seeing moving targets in its sensor data

    Nathan Strout WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Descartes Labs a $2.2 million contract to generate real-time analytics with a focus on developing moving target indication data, the company announced Oct. 27. Under this new contract, AFRL will gain access to the company's geospatial analytics platform, which uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to process and fuse sensor data, such as satellite imagery, for tactical use. Descartes Labs claims the focus of this contract will involve using its platform to help the Air Force solve the challenge of generating moving target indication data for ground and airborne targets. The New Mexico-based company was recently awarded a contract from AFRL and AFWERX — an Air Force effort to spark innovation through nontraditional vendors — that gave the service access to Descartes Labs' geospatial analytics platform for multi-sensor data fusion and situational awareness. The company has also worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, helping the firm further refine its approach. “Through the implementation of multi-sensor analytics, the Air Force is creating a forward-thinking state-of-the-art national security system,” Mike Warren, Descartes Labs co-founder and chief technology officer, said in a statement. “Through increasing use of diverse types of data, the Air Force is laying the groundwork to solve tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance problems now and in the future.” This latest contract was issued through AFRL's Space Technology Advanced Research program, which was launched in summer 2019 to develop enabling technologies for space-based capabilities, including on-orbit servicing, debris management, ground systems and more. http://9.

  • India approves S-400 buy from Russia, amid expectations for more bilateral deals

    October 1, 2018 | International, Land

    India approves S-400 buy from Russia, amid expectations for more bilateral deals

    By: Vivek Raghuvanshi NEW DELHI — India has quietly approved a $5.43 billion program to buy five S-400 Triumf air defense systems from Russia, just a week before Russian President Vladimir Putin's Oct. 5 visit to the country. The program was approved earlier this week by the Indian government's highest defense approval body, the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. When asked about India's decision in relation to U.S. objections over the purchase, a top Ministry of Defence official said: “We already have communicated our stand on the subject to Washington.” A formal government-to-government contract is expected to be announced during the 19th India-Russia summit on Oct. 5. “Apparently, the Indian defense establishment is convinced that S-400 Triumf system is ideally suited to fill a critical gap in our existing capabilities. That being the case, there is no reason for India to buckle under the U.S. pressure to roll back procurement of hardware from Russia,” said Amit Cowshish, a former former financial adviser on defense acquisition for the MoD. U.S. embassy diplomats were unavailable for comment. Indian defense forces have been apprehensive about the fate of armament supplies from Russia following U.S. sanctions on Russian entities under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA. India and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement on the sale of five S-400 units during 17th India-Russia summit in October 2016 in Goa in the presence of Putin and Modi. The Russian-built S-400 is capable of intercepting and destroying airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) and can simultaneously engage up to six targets. Each S-400 unit comprises tracking and search radar systems, eight launchers, 112 guided missiles, and command and support vehicles. The first missile system will be delivered by the end of 2020. Further cooperation India is also expected to announce a $2.2 billion government-to-government contract with United Shipbuilding Corporation of Russia for two Krivak-class stealth frigates. In addition, an intergovernmental agreement will be inked for the joint production of AK-103 assault rifles in India. U.S. sanctions against Russia compelled India early this year to freeze payments of more than $2 billion, temporarily halting several ongoing defense programs receiving assistance from several Russian defense original equipment manufacturers. Until last month, CAATSA also affected India's purchase of spare parts, components, raw materials and other assistance for which Indian entities are dependent on Russia for domestic licence manufacturing and maintenance of existing equipment, according to another MoD official. Following an April 7 verdict by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, India's national bank, the State Bank of India, stopped all payments to Russian arms trading company Rosoboronexport. “This [problem] is more or less rectified now," the official added. India now wants a new 10-year framework agreement with Russia to manufacture and upgrade at least a dozen types of Russian armament systems in India, including for Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighters, Mi-series helicopters, Kamov helicopters, T-90 tanks, artillery guns and Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher systems. Cowshish noted that India cannot afford to distance itself from Russia, if for no other reason than the fact that it requires Russia's continued support to maintain and operate in-service equipment, a large proportion of which is of Russian-origin. Russia remains the largest defense supplier to India, but its share of the Indian market has fallen sharply.

  • Light as a form of defence? Laser brings down unwanted drones

    June 10, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    Light as a form of defence? Laser brings down unwanted drones

    June 8, 2020 - Almost 300,000 km per second. That's the speed of light, and also the speed of laser light. Faster than any projectile. A laser is also accurate and always hits its target. This means it should be possible to bring down unwanted drones quickly and cheaply. In a laboratory set-up for weapon systems, TNO is already seeing promising test results with a high-energy laser. From an innocent toy to an offensive weapon: that's what happens when malicious people attach explosives to drones. The fact that improvised explosive devices like this can inflict significant damage was confirmed yet again last September, during the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil installations. GATWICK AIRPORT PLAGUED BY DRONES Even without explosives, drones can still cause major problems. In 2018, at Braitains Gatwick airport, a few simple and inexpensive drones proved capable of causing hours of disruption to air traffic. “The Netherlands has its own counter-drone research programme. The problem is being taken very seriously.” COUNTER-DRONE RESEARCH PROGRAMME Several countries across the world, including the Netherlands, are developing solutions for the problem of drones. Last year the Netherlands launched its own counter-drone research programme, spearheaded by the Ministry of Defence, the National Police and the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV). The problem is being taken very seriously and is therefore high on the agenda. UTMOST CARE “The first challenge is to quickly detect and identify an incoming drone”, says Patrick Keyzer, who heads up TNO's research programme. “If a drone appears to represent a genuine threat, we have to disarm it as quickly as possible. Of course, it must be done with the utmost care and we need to ensure that we inflict as little unintentional damage as possible.” “TNO is testing a high-energy laser capable of burning a hole in thick steel plate in just a few seconds” ENOUGH FIREPOWER Using a laser is one of the possibilities for disabling drones. “It's a highly effective method”, confirms Federica Valente, Business Developer for TNO's high-energy laser research. In a heavily-secured bunker, her colleagues are testing a high-energy laser capable of burning a hole in thick steel plate in a matter of seconds. “That's obviously more than enough firepower to bring down drones.” LESS THAN A EURO A SHOT “This kind of laser is also extremely accurate and cost-effective”, she continues. “To fire it, you only have to pay for the energy: less than a euro each time. A laser is also very flexible, enabling you to monitor the drone's every movement at relatively low cost.” “In addition to using a laser, we can also take control of the drones or use jammers” TOOLBOX “A laser weapon certainly has numerous advantages”, agrees Keyzer. “But we need to carefully assess the setting and situation in which a drone appears. It's important to have several options at our disposal for disabling drones responsibly. This is why we're currently developing and researching several different solutions. In addition to using a laser, we can also take control of the drones or use jammers. So, it's not a case of ‘one solution fits all'. Nevertheless, the emergence of a laser weapon will help enormously in combating the threat of drones.” The laser weapon is just one of the weapon systems that TNO is researching. The aim of these innovations is to protect those who protect us. Read more about it on the ‘Weapon Systems' page. View source version on TNO:

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