23 mai 2023 | International, C4ISR

NATO hunger for info driving deals for commercial satellite imagery

The U.S. and U.K. are leading contributors to NATO joint ISR, with “everybody else” tailing, an official said at the GEOINT Symposium.


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  • How stealthy is Boeing’s new Super Hornet?

    9 avril 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    How stealthy is Boeing’s new Super Hornet?

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — The Block III Super Hornet is getting a marginal increase in stealth capability, but if you're expecting the invisible aircraft of President Donald Trump's dreams, think again. Building a “stealthy” Super Hornet has been one of Trump's talking points since he was elected to the presidency. During a March trip to Boeing's plant in St. Louis, he claimed the U.S. military would buy Super Hornets with “the latest and the greatest stealth and a lot of things on that plane that people don't even know about.” Trump was referring to one of the Super Hornet's Block III upgrades slated to be incorporated on jets rolling off the production line in 2020: the application of radar absorbent materials or RAM, also known as stealth coating. But far from being “the latest and greatest,” the company has already used the exact same materials on the on the Block II Super Hornet to help decrease the chances of radar detection, said Dan Gillian, who manages Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler programs. Block III jets will get “a little more” of that coating applied to them, “and in a few different areas to buy a little bit more performance,” Gillian told Defense News in a March interview. All in all, those improvements will reduce the aircraft's radar cross section by about 10 percent, and with very low risk, he said. Although the general public tends to think of stealth like the invisibility cloak from Harry Potter or Wonder Woman's invisible plane, stealth is more of a continuum that is enabled and affected by many factors, experts told Defense News. “It's not a Romulan cloaking device,” said Richard Aboulafia, a Teal Group aviation analyst, referencing a technology from Star Trek that allowed spaceships to be invisible to the naked eye and electro-optical sensors. “It's about reducing the likelihood that an adversary will see you first. And seconds count, so if it buys a little extra time, then it helps.” The most important contributors to low observability are the aircraft's shape and the use of LO coatings, with airframe shape commonly seen as twice as important as the coatings, he said. Stealth fighters from the oddly angled F-117 to the F-22 and F-35, with their rounded edges, were all designed to bounce radar waves away from an aircraft, sometimes at the expense of aerodynamic performance or other attributes, said Brian Laslie, an Air Force historian and author. That being said, the Super Hornet, with it's external stores and pylons, is not going to replicate the low observability of the joint strike fighter, which was designed from the beginning with stealth in mind. “But just because it's not a pure LO aircraft doesn't mean that the designers weren't concerned with the radar return,” said Laslie, who added that it's “reasonable” to expect a 10 percent decrease to the aircraft's signature by augmenting Block III jets with additional RAM coating. Shining a spotlight on the Super Hornet's low observable attributes may have helped sell Trump on future orders, Aboulafia speculated. “It might be useful in the real world too, but in a much more marginal way,” he said. One of those benefits, according to Laslie, is that the LO performance upgrade could also enable the Navy to be more flexible in its mission planning. An aircraft can be more or less easily detected by radar depending on how it is positioned or the route used by the plane, so having more radar-absorbing materials on the Super Hornet could give the pilot more options. “I think what the Navy is doing is trying to maybe reduce enough of the cross section of the F-18 in high intensity combat scenarios,” Laslie said. “I don't think they're trying to make the F/A-18 a stealth aircraft,” he continued. “But if they can reduce the radar cross section enough that in certain scenarios it is more difficult to pick the Super Hornet up, that would be of benefit to the Navy.” While the president has done much to focus public attention on the Super Hornet's upcoming LO upgrade, the Block III actually offers a relatively modest increase in stealth compared to earlier concepts floated by Boeing. In 2013, when the company began evaluating how to attract future sales from the Navy as production slowed, it started promoting an “Advanced Super Hornet” configuration that would have improved the aircraft's signature by 50 percent. That version of the jet included structural enhancements and an enclosed weapons pod, but Boeing ultimately stepped away from that concept. “Those big compromises you have to make to get the higher levels of stealth like putting your weapons in a bay, we don't think that's a necessary part of the Block III story for the Super Hornet,” Gillian said. https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/navy-league/2018/04/09/how-stealthy-is-boeings-new-super-hornet/

  • General Dynamics Griffin Takes Lead To Replace M2 Bradley

    16 octobre 2018 | International, Terrestre

    General Dynamics Griffin Takes Lead To Replace M2 Bradley

    By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. BAE System's CV90 Mark IV is the latest upgrade of a 25-year-old vehicle widely used in Europe; the Rheinmetall-Raytheon Lynx is an all-new design, although individual components have a good track record; but the General Dynamics Griffin III is in the middle, combining a new gun and new electronics with the time-tested chassis from the European ASCOD family. AUSA: General Dynamics looks like the early favorite to replace the Army's 1980s-vintage M2 Bradley troop carrier. That's my personal assessment after talking at length to officers and contractors at last week's Association of the US Army conference, where months of uncertainty finally gave way to some real clarity about both what the Army wants and what industry can offer. In brief, GD's Griffin III demonstrator seems to hit the sweet spot between innovative and proven technologies that the Army wants to start fielding a Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) as soon as 2026. Of the three vehicles on display at AUSA, BAE System's CV90 Mark IV is the latest upgrade of a 25-year-old vehicle widely used in Europe; the Rheinmetall-Raytheon Lynx is an all-new design, although individual components have a good track record; but the General Dynamics Griffin III is in the middle, combining a new gun and new electronics with the time-tested chassis from the European ASCOD family. The competitors do have a lot in common. All offer tracked vehicles with diesel engines — even BAE, which once touted its hybrid-electric drives as a key selling point. All three boast open-architecture electronics to ease future upgrades, an integrated Active Protection System to shoot down incoming anti-tank warheads, modular armor that can be layered on or stripped down depending on the mission, and a turret capable of mounting a 50 mm gun, the Army's preferred caliber. Only the Griffin actually has a 50mm installed right now, however. The others currently have 35mm cannon. It's also the only vehicle that can point its gun almost straight up, at an 85 degree angle, to hit rooftop targets in urban combat, something the Army has worried about extensively. Details like this suggest that General Dynamics has been listening more closely to the Army than its competitors. In fact, even where the Griffin III underperforms its competitors, most notably by carrying fewer infantry, it does so in areas where the Army is willing to make tradeoffs. The End of the Beginning Now, it's still early in the NGCV race. While we only saw three contenders on the floor at AUSA, it's still entirely possible a fourth player could jump in. My money's on the team of SAIC and Singapore-based STK, which is already offering a modified Singaporean army vehicle for the US Army's Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) light tank. The other MPF competitors are BAE, with an update of the Armored Gun Systemcancelled in 1996, and GD, offering a version of the Griffin. By November, the Army will award two of the three companies contracts to build prototypes. If either GD or the SAIC-ST team wins, they'll have at least a slight advantage for NGCV, since buying related vehicles for both roles will simplify training, maintenance, and supply. (BAE's AGS is totally unrelated to its CV90, so an MPF win wouldn't help it on NGCV). By contrast to MPF, the competition for NGCV is only at the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. The Army's still refining its requirements, in part based on discussions with industry at AUSA. What's the timeline? Col. James Schirmer, the program manager, said at the conference that “we are within weeks of having that requirement finalized.” Brig. Gen. Richard Ross Coffman, the Army's director of armored vehicle modernization, said a formal Request For Proposal (RFP) based on those requirements will come out no later than January. So there'll be time for the competitors to revise their NGCV designs before submitting them. Even after that, more than one company will get a contract to build prototypes for Army testing. What's the objective that drives both this pace and the technological tradeoffs the Army is willing to make? Fielding the first operational unit in 2026 — nine years earlier than the original plan — to help deter Russian aggression. Deadline 2026 “All options are on the table, but the schedule will be the schedule,” Brig. Gen. Coffman told reporters at AUSA. “We would like to field this vehicle by 2026.” “If someone could develop a clean sheet design that could meet that timeline,” he said, “it'd be great, but I don't know that's doable.” (By contrast, the potential replacement for the M1 Abrams tank is coming later, so the service is looking for radical innovation). Schirmer offered more specifics. “We have a pretty challenging test schedule... very similar to MPF, (so) we really can't afford a clean sheet design,” he said. The more mature the component technologies, the better, he said, but what's best is that those individual components have been proven as an integrated system. Specifically, Schirmer said, “for the Bradley replacement, we are going to be buying vehicles that are based on a mature architecture — powertrain, track, suspension — that's already in service somewhere in the world.” While these remarks leave the door open for the Lynx, or at least ajar, they're not particularly encouraging. By contrast, the CV90 series entered service with Sweden in 1993, with variants now serving in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Holland, Norway, and Switzerland. The Griffin III is the latest member of the ASCOD family — the Spanish Pizzaro, Austrian Ulan, and British Ajax — which debuted in Spain in 2002. While the Army wants a proven hull, however, Schirmer says there is one area where technology is advancing fast enough for it be worth taking some risk: lethality, i.e. the gun and sensors. In particular, while the Bradley has a 25mm chaingun, the Army really wants NGCV to have a 50mm cannon — firing shells about four times as big — that's now in development at the service's Ammunition Research, Development, & Engineering Center (ARDEC). That gun, the XM913, is currently integrated on just one competitor, the Griffin, although both the Lynx and CV90 turrets could accommodate it. All three vehicles, like the Bradley, also have room in the turret to mount anti-tank missiles of various types. The Griffin on the show floor also mounts a launcher for AeroVironment Shrike mini-drones, while the Lynx will have the option to launch Raytheon's Coyote: Both mini-drones can be configured either with sensors to scout or with warheads to destroy. Even on weaponry, however, the Army is willing to make compromises to speed fielding, just as it introduced the original M1 Abrams with a 105 mm gun but with room to upgrade to the desired 120mm when it was ready a few years later. For NGCV, Schirmer said, they want the vehicle to have the 50mm gun eventually but “may settle on the 30 in the near term, just to meet schedule.” Armor & Passengers Besides gun caliber, the other easily measured aspect of an armored vehicle is its weight, which is very much a two-edged sword. There's been no breakthrough in armor materials since the 1980s and none on the horizon, so the only way to get better armor is to make it thicker. So a heavier vehicle is probably better protected, but it also burns more fuel, wears out more spare parts, and has more trouble getting places: Bridges and transport aircraft in particular can only take so much weight. Full article: https://breakingdefense.com/2018/10/general-dynamics-griffin-takes-lead-to-replace-m2-bradley

  • Airbus demos Remote Carrier 'loyal wingman' connectivity with Eurofighters and Tornados

    31 juillet 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Airbus demos Remote Carrier 'loyal wingman' connectivity with Eurofighters and Tornados

    by Gareth Jennings Airbus has demonstrated for the first time with real combat aircraft the Remote Carrier (RC) ‘loyal wingman' technology it is developing for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Systeme de Combat Arien du Futur (SCAF) programme. The event during the Luftwaffe's Timber Express exercise over northern Germany and the North Sea, announced by the company on 30 July, saw national Eurofighter and Panavia Tornado aircraft demonstrate interconnectivity with an RC network using the Link 16 datalink. “During the exercise, the Remote Carriers, which currently use the Compact Airborne Networking Data Link (CANDL), were successfully connected to Link 16, the operational tactical datalink of the armed forces. The Remote Carriers were not only visible to all tactical combat aircraft of the [German] Air Force, but could also receive and execute orders without the need for technical modifications to the aircraft,” Airbus said. As noted by the company, this event was followed up with a demonstration of RC interoperability with the NATO concept of Co-operative ESM Operations (CESMO); a reconnaissance network spanning several branches of the armed forces aimed at locating threat systems in the electromagnetic spectrum in real time. https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/airbus-demos-remote-carrier-loyal-wingman-connectivity-with-eurofighters-and-tornados

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