14 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial

New Spy Drone Flies Non-Stop for a Month

Airbus's Zephyr solar-powered drone flew for 25 days straight during a test-flight over Yuma, Arizona beginning on July 11, 2018. The flight represented a record for aircraft endurance, breaking the previous 14-day record also set by a Zephyr back in 2015.

The long flight has big implications for military surveillance. Drones like Zephyr could loiter over a low-intensity battlefield far longer than current drones can do. The latest high-endurance Reaper drone maxes out at 40 hours in the air.

The propeller-driven Zephyr belongs to a class of aircraft known as “high-altitude pseudo-satellites,” or HAPs. Flying as high as 70,000 feet for weeks or even months at a time, HAPs perform many of the same missions that low-orbiting satellites do.

“The main HAP applications are in telecommunications and remote sensing, both civilian and military,” Flavio Araripe d'Oliveira, Francisco Cristovão Lourenço de Melo and Tessaleno Campos Devezas wrote in a 2016 paper.

Compared to comms satellites, HAPs have the advantages of lower latency and the ability to land for maintenance or reconfiguration, d'Oliveira, de Melo and Devezas explained. For surveillance missions, HAPs unlike satellites can linger over a particular area and could produce images with better resolution, since they fly lower than satellites do.

HAPs could be more vulnerable to enemy defenses, however. Where satellites orbit many hundreds of miles over Earth, beyond the reach of most conventional weaponry, Zephyr — so far the only HAP undergoing realistic testing — attained a maximum altitude of 70,000 feet, well under the ceiling for modern air-defense missile systems such as the Russian S-300.

Also, the drone is slow, with a cruising speed of just 20 miles per hour.

Zephyr and similar pseudo-satellite drones could be best-suited for operations over lightly-defended territory. In 2016, the U.K. ministry of defense bought three Zephyrs for around $6 million apiece in order to evaluate them for potential use by the military and other government agencies.

“Zephyr is a cutting edge, record-breaking piece of kit that will be capable of gathering constant, reliable information over vast geographical areas at a much greater level of detail than ever before,” then-defense secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement.

Airbus is still refining Zephyr, in particular its power-consumption. During daytime, the lightly-built solar-powered drone — which features an 82-foot wingspan and yet weighs just 165 pounds — can fly as high as 70,000 feet while also charging its batteries.

After the sun goes down, Zephyr runs on batteries ... and slowly loses altitude. During the record-setting Yuma flight, the drone dipped as low as 50,000 feet at night.

The challenge for Airbus is to balance weight and power-consumption to produce the optimal flight profile for a particular task. “You have to find the right equation between flying altitude plus battery life, maintaining this or that power,” said Alain Dupiech, an Airbus spokesperson.

It's unclear just how long Zephyr could stay aloft under the right conditions. The drone's lithium-ion battery eventually dies, forcing it to land for maintenance. But battery technology is advancing rapidly, driven in part by consumer demand for electric cars, d'Oliveira, de Melo and Devezas wrote.

In the short term, a maximum endurance of several months is not inconceivable. But longer flights might not be particularly useful for surveillance and comms missions, Dupiech said. “At this stage, most of those missions are not calling for a year and half up there.”

Airbus has scheduled Zephyr's next test flight for October in western Australia.

http://warisboring.com/new-spy-drone-flies-non-stop-for-a-month/

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  • Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - January 13, 2021

    14 janvier 2021 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - January 13, 2021

    ARMY Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., Tarrytown, New York, was awarded a $2,625,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for 1.25 million courses of a monoclonal antibody therapeutic (a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab) for COVID-19. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Tarrytown, New York, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 11, 2022. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Army) funds in the amount of $2,625,000,000 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Newark, New Jersey, is the contracting activity (W15QKN-21-C-0014). (Awarded Jan. 12, 2021) International Business Machines Corp., Bethesda, Maryland, was awarded a $17,758,596 modification (P00094) to contract W52P1J-17-C-0008 for services and solutions to support and maintain the General Fund Enterprise Business System Financial System Army-wide. Work will be performed in Bethesda, Maryland, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 15, 2022. Fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance (Army) funds; and 2020 and 2021 research, development, test and evaluation (Army) funds in the amount of $17,758,596 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, is the contracting activity. NAVY Data Link Solutions LLC, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (N00039-21-A-1001); and DRS Laurel Technologies Partnership, Johnstown, Pennsylvania (N00039-21-A-1002), are each awarded $150,000,000 firm-fixed-price blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) for electronic equipment cabinets. These BPAs cover the production of up to 150 units per contractor along with the associated program management, testing and logistics support to deliver the units. Units will be manufactured in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, with an expected completion date of January 2023. The total potential value of these BPAs is $150,000,000 per vendor. The total length of the ordering period is 24 months. Fiscal 2021 other procurement (Navy) funds will be obligated on a delivery order level issued under the BPA at the time of placement of individual delivery calls. These BPAs were negotiated using the procedures defined under Federal Acquisition Regulation 13.5 for individual orders less than $15,000,000. The Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, California, is the contracting activity. General Electric Aviation, Lynn, Massachusetts, is awarded a $101,470,782 firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00015) to previously awarded contract N00019-18-C-1007. This modification procures 21 T408-GE-400 turboshaft engines and associated engine, programmatic and logistics services in support of CH-53K Lot Five low rate initial production aircraft. Work will be performed in Lynn, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed in December 2024. Fiscal 2021 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount $101,470,782 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. MN-BMCD SE JV, Tampa, Florida, is awarded a maximum-value $60,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, architect-engineering contract for professional architectural and engineering services in support of waterfront projects in the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Southeast area of responsibility (AOR). The work to be performed provides for preparation of professional architectural and engineering services for preparation of design-bid-build documents and design-build requests for proposals for various project types in support of waterfront and marine facilities at Department of Defense (DOD) and non-DOD activities in the NAVFAC Southeast AOR. Future task orders will be primarily funded by operation and maintenance (Navy) and military construction (Navy) funds. Work will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps installations in the NAVFAC Southeast AOR including, but not limited to Florida (30%); Georgia (30%); Andros Island, Bahamas (10%); Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (10%); South Carolina (5%); Louisiana (5%); Mississippi (5%); and Texas (5%), and is expected to be completed by February 2026. An initial task order to conduct a site engineering investigation and concept design workshop for P-021 lighterage wharf and lift-launch pier at Marine Corps Support Facility Blount Island, Florida, is included with the award and is expected to be completed by April 2021. Fiscal 2021 military construction (Navy) funds in the amount of $202,780 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with two proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Florida, is the contracting activity (N69450-21-D-0002). Chatmon-VJR JV LLC,* La Place, Louisiana, is awarded a maximum-value $49,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for roofing projects at various military installations in the metropolitan San Diego, California, area, including Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Base San Diego, and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. No task orders are being issued at this time. The work to be performed is for repair, removal and replacement of roofing systems at various military installations in the metro San Diego area. Projects may include, but are not limited to, roofing services with minimal design requirements for new minor construction, facility repair, rehabilitation and alterations for a broad range of renovation and construction work. Future task orders will be primarily funded by operation and maintenance (Navy) funds. Work will be performed in San Diego, California, and is expected to completed by January 2026. Fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $5,000 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with seven proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Southwest, San Diego, California, is the contracting activity (N62473-21-D-2601). Essex Electro Engineers Inc.,* Schaumburg, Illinois, is awarded a $46,638,225 firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. This contract provides for the production and delivery of up to a maximum quantity of 575 land-based mobile electric power plant units to provide 120KVA 115 VAC 400 Hz/270VDC/28VDC electric power to support general aircraft maintenance for all Navy aircraft platforms. Work will be performed in Schaumburg, Illinois, and is expected to be completed in January 2027. No funds will be obligated at the time of award; funds will be obligated on individual orders as they are issued. This contract was competitively procured as a small business set-aside and five offers were received. The Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, New Jersey, is the contracting activity (N68335-21-D-0049). Team Corp., Burlington, Washington, is awarded a $26,417,062 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract provides 24 environmental testing systems that simulate the effects of climatic, induced thermal, dynamic and loads environments. The environmental testing systems support the development, design, environmental qualification, airworthiness, product improvement and failure investigations of Department of Defense weapon and target systems. The scope of this requirement is to design, manufacture, test and install the environmental testing systems. Support services include lead system integration, building and laboratory design specifications support, project management, equipment installation and training. Work will be performed in Burlington, Washington (50%); and China Lake, California (50%), and is expected to be completed in January 2024. Fiscal 2020 other procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $26,417,062 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, Point Mugu, California, is the contracting activity (N68936-21-C-0032). DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY Puerto Rico Apparel Manufacturing Corp.,** Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, has been awarded a maximum $12,775,524 modification (P00026) exercising the second one-year option period of one-year base contract SPE1C1-19-D-1127 with four one-year option periods for various types of coats and trousers. This is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. Location of performance is Puerto Rico, with a Jan. 15, 2022, ordering period end date. Using military services are Army and Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. San Antonio Light House for the Blind,*** San Antonio, Texas, has been awarded a maximum $8,295,000 firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for trousers. This is a one-year base contract with two one-year option periods. Location of performance is Texas, with a Jan. 13, 2022, ordering period end date. Using military services are Army and Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE1C1-21-D-B101). *Small business **Economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business in historically underutilized business zones ***Mandatory source https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Contracts/Contract/Article/2471330/source/GovDelivery/

  • Lockheed braces for German blowback over cost of missile-defense pitch

    27 juin 2019 | International, Autre défense

    Lockheed braces for German blowback over cost of missile-defense pitch

    By: Sebastian Sprenger PARIS — Lockheed Martin executives are preparing for a stiff debate in Germany about the price tag of a next-generation anti-missile system formally proposed to Berlin just days ago. “I think the price will be a challenge, and we'll have to negotiate to come to an agreement,” Frank St. John, executive vice president of the company's Missiles and Fire Control business, told Defense News in an interview at the Paris Air Show last week. “But we're going to do better than the early expectations of the price.” That is a reference to a figure that surfaced during the spring following testimony of a senior German defense official before parliament. At the time, the cost estimate for the TLVS program, short for Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem, was €8 billion (U.S. $9 billion). St. John declined to name the price ultimately included by Lockheed Martin and its German partner MBDA in their June 21 proposal. But he suggested the figure would lie significantly enough below the €8 million mark to be considered more than cosmetic. “I still anticipate a healthy debate and discussion about the pricing and the scope of the program through the negotiation process,” he said. Negotiations are expected to begin as soon as the German Defence Ministry has analyzed the proposal, described by German officials as being thousands of pages long. If the government and Lockheed Martin come to an agreement, the proposed investment would go before lawmakers for a decision, probably late this year or early next year. German plans for the TLVS program are based on the Medium Extended Air Defense System, conceived about 10 years ago as a replacement for the Patriot fleets of the United States, Germany and Italy. Soldiers had criticized the decades-old Patriot system as too cumbersome to deploy and maintain in the field. Germany has stuck with MEADS even after the United States and Italy dropped off, with officials in Berlin arguing the prospect of developing a truly novel defensive weapon was worth the gamble of going it alone. Defense officials in Germany have since added new requirements. For one, Berlin wants full control over all components, as opposed to buying an American weapon whose inner workings are shrouded in secrecy. In addition, the German government wants to be able to shoot down what officials call “advanced threats” (code for hypersonic missiles, such as those developed by Russia). According to St. John, Lockheed's latest TLVS proposal comes with the promise of intercepting such threats, though probably not the most sophisticated ones. “And then there is a provision in the contract and in the design of the system to add capability as time goes by and as the threat evolves,” he said. One of the sticking points for the proposed program — German access to secret performance data of the weapon's principal interceptor, the so-called MSE missile — appears to have been resolved, St. John said. Until late last year, Berlin was unhappy with U.S. Army restrictions placed on the information, which Germany considers crucial for adapting the system to its needs. Senior Pentagon leaders intervened to help resolve the logjam after Defense News reported on the issue in December 2018. “We believe that we have coordinated that with the Department of State and the appropriate folks at the Department of Defense, and that the German customer is going to have access to the data they need to evaluate the system,” St. John said. “They'll also have access to the data they need to recommend future modifications. We think that issue is resolved now.” At the same time, he added, another round of approvals will be needed from the U.S. government as contract negotiations with Germany progress. “We'll have to go back one more time ... to verify that everything is still in a good place." Patriot-maker Raytheon issued a statement Monday reiterating its readiness to snatch the missile-defense contract from arch enemy Lockheed Martin if the TLVS program goes south. The company especially played up the option of connecting an upgraded Patriot system to a lower-tier system, made by Rheinmetall, to defend against drones and artillery rounds. Ralph Acaba, president of Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business, said his company is increasingly banking on a layered air defense concept in which different systems — perhaps owned by different countries — take on various threat types. “No single nation, no single system can do it all when it comes to missile defense,” he told Defense News at the Paris Air Show. According to Joseph de Antona, vice president for business development and strategy in Acaba's division, Raytheon does not consider Lockheed's TLVS bid a threat to Patriot sales. “If a country makes a decision, it's our responsibility to honor and recognize that,” he said. At the same time, he added, Raytheon plans to continue to advise the German government on new threats and how to counter them. The company is “absolutely” still talking to the Berlin government to that effect, de Antona told Defense News. German lawmakers on the Defence and Budget committees on Wednesday approved roughly €120 million to upgrade the country's Patriot fleet to the newest configuration, known as “3-plus.” According to Raytheon, Berlin's investments to keep Patriot up to date had been lagging since the decision in favor of TLVS. Meanwhile, the proposed new system's funding profile has begun to take shape. Berlin wants to spend €3.36 billion on TLVS between 2021 and 2028, according to a draft government budget proposal meant for deliberation by lawmakers after the summer recess. That figure likely would be too low to finance Lockheed's entire program proposal. But the draft budget includes a provision permitting a transfer of funds from the envisioned €5.6 billion budget for a new heavy transport helicopter. The two contenders for that program are Boeing and Lockheed Martin. https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/paris-air-show/2019/06/26/lockheed-braces-for-german-blowback-over-cost-of-missile-defense-pitch/

  • The Air Force sends good guys in to hack its cloud

    8 août 2019 | International, Sécurité

    The Air Force sends good guys in to hack its cloud

    By: Andrew Eversden The Air Force invited ethical hackers into its IT networks again this spring, allowing good guys the chance to infiltrate its enterprise-wide Air Force Common Computing Environment in search of vulnerabilities, the white hat hacking company Bugcrowd announced Aug. 6. The bug bounty program, done in a partnership with Bugcrowd and the Air Force's CCE program office, found 54 vulnerabilities. Bug bounties work under the assumption that the customer, in this case the Air Force, will now close the loopholes the hackers found, making the system more secure. The CCE cloud uses Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure commercial cloud. The service plans to migrate more than 100 applications to that cloud environment, Bugcrowd executives said. The largest payout from the bug bounty totaled $20,000. The event ran from March 18 to June 21 at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. Casey Ellis, Bugcrowd founder and CTO, said it was the first time Bugcrowd has worked with the Air Force. The Air Force has completed several other white hat hacking events with the firm HackerOne. Ellis said that moving to the cloud from on-premise environment represents a “paradigm shift” for many organizations. Penetration testing is an important part of keeping that environment secure, he said. Bugcrowd conducted such tests in six phases: source code analysis, AWS environment testing, Azure environment testing, black box network authentication assessment, social engineering engagement and Air Force portal testing. Bugcrowd declined to discuss how many vulnerabilities were found throughout each stage of the process. According to a news release from the Air Force from April, the CCE currently houses 21 Air Force applications and "has room for countess more.” The computing environment allows the Air Force to have a cloud to host its applications that reside on its Global Combat Support System, which is a centralized, cohesive enterprise resource planning system. The Air Force said in the April release that each migration costs $446,000 and that the service has spent more than $136 million on the program since 2016. https://www.fifthdomain.com/dod/air-force/2019/08/06/the-air-force-sends-good-guys-in-to-hack-its-cloud/

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