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Lockheed Demos Enhanced Ground Control System and Software for Small Unmanned Aircraft

Lockheed Martin’s Group 1 family of unmanned aircraft systems is migrating to enhanced automation capabilities using its Kestrel “Fly Light” flight control systems and industry-leading mobile Ground Control Station (mGCS) software. The increased automation allows operators to focus on executing the mission, rather than flying various aircraft.

Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin’s Desert Hawk III small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) demonstrated these enhancements by delivering improved situational awareness to operators.

The mGCS enhancements also proved to substantially reduce operator workload through an intuitive interface, user-friendly touchscreen and joystick options, as well as a sophisticated set of operator warnings, cautions and advisories.

“The mGCS is a derivative of our proven VCS-4586 software that focuses on providing capabilities to the small unit level,” said Kevin Westfall, director of unmanned solutions at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business.

“mGCS is a single, portable system capable of conducting missions that would typically require multiple controllers and federated software applications in order to manage the many different types of UAS.”

mGCS was developed on an open system using commercial off-the-shelf technology that is interoperable with a variety of portable computers, hand controllers, autopilots, data links and sensors.

The mGCS software is compliant with NATO’s Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4586 and also includes a full software development kit to provide other UAS manufacturers the ability to add systems and other capabilities without restriction. This significantly eases integration while reducing support and sustainment costs as well.

With more than five decades experience in unmanned and robotic systems, Lockheed Martin offers multiple solutions for air, land and sea. From the depths of the ocean to the rarified air of the stratosphere, Lockheed Martin’s unmanned systems help our military, civil and commercial customers accomplish their most difficult challenges.

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Raytheon Demos Enhanced Paveway II GBU-50s For French Airforce

By on Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Raytheon and the French Air Force completed a demonstration of a penetrator variant of a Paveway GBU-50 from a Mirage 2000D multirole fighter jet. The weapon met all flight objectives and scored a direct hit against a reinforced concrete slab.

“Raytheon is committed to delivering GBU-50′s unique capabilities to our French customer, ” said Mike Jarrett, vice president of Air Warfare Systems. “Raytheon offers a proven, cost effective dual mode solution that is fully compatible with the MK-84 and BLU-109.”

Each Enhanced Paveway II guidance and control section is compatible with warheads ranging from the 250 pound MK-81 to the 2,000 pound MK-84 and BLU-109. Offering a range of smart fuze settings from air burst to post impact, along with selectable terminal impact angles and angle of attack control, the GBU-50 takes the capabilities of both the MK-84 and BLU-109 to a new level.

The Paveway bomb kit affordably transforms “dumb” bombs into cutting edge precision-guided munitions. The all-weather GBU-50, with its GPS/precision terminal laser guidance is in production with more than 200 units delivered to date.

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Enhanced Missile Warning System to Protect US Army Troops

By on Thursday, January 16th, 2014

For more than two million in-theater combat hours, U.S. Army aviators have relied on BAE Systems’ Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) to locate and protect against infrared threats. As a result of the system’s success, the U.S. Army has awarded the company a $39 million contract for more than 300 third-generation (Gen3) units. This order coincides with the fielding of the Gen3 system that includes hostile fire indication to detect and evade small arms fire and new data recording capabilities for detailed post-mission analysis.

“Our Common Missile Warning System has been battle tested with more than 2,100 systems delivered and integrated on more than 30 different platform types,” said Bill Staib, director of Threat Management Solutions at BAE Systems. “The Gen3 enhancements allow us to provide a missile warning, hostile fire indication, and data recording system all in one box. This can immediately make a difference for our troops by improving survivability and increasing situational awareness.”

As a highly automated and tightly integrated infrared countermeasures suite, CMWS locates threats and dispenses countermeasures without requiring pilot intervention. The system features a modular, customizable design that allows for seamless integration with other aircraft and survivability systems. To that end, CMWS has demonstrated its ability to serve as a centralized processing system for Integrated Aircraft Survivability Equipment.

The $39 million order is the first under a proposed $496 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract and increases the total U.S. Army Gen3 procurement to more than 1,300 units. The current contract includes unit spares and engineering and technical services. The Gen3 systems will be fielded to more than 1,000 U.S. Army platforms over the next two years, and has already begun with in-theater installations on the Apache, Kiowa, and Blackhawk aircraft in Afghanistan.

BAE Systems has a long history of providing threat detection and advanced threat countermeasures for superior protection against guided and unguided threats to both rotary and fixed wing aircraft. Highlighting the company’s leadership in this area, its CMWS technology is expected to be utilized to identify incoming threats for the U.S. Army’s next-generation Common Infrared Countermeasures system, which is designed to protect the U.S. Army and Navy helicopter fleets.

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New gear brings enhanced precision to field artillery in Afghanistan

By on Monday, May 6th, 2013

Newly-fielded in Afghanistan, the XM1156 “Precision Guidance Kit” provides add-on precision guidance capability to the projectiles used in the M109A6 Paladin and M777A2 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer weapons systems.

Artillerymen with Battery’s A and B, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment recently became the first unit in Regional Command East to use the Precision Guidance Kit, or PGK, when they test-fired rounds equipped with the system, April 21.

Prior to that first firing, a fielding team from Fort Sill, Okla., provided instruction to the gun line, fire direction center, and fire supporters. The fires teams trained for four days on the PGK. The training included classroom lessons as well as practical exercises.

“It was great having our battle buddies from our sister units come to join us with this training,” said Staff Sgt. Christian Stephenson, section chief for 1st Section, 1st Platoon, Battery B. “I feel fortunate that my section gets to go through this training and experience this here.”

The units fired a total of five rounds, all of which landed within five meters of each other and within 25 meters of the target. The effects on target were achieved, and the training proved very successful.

“By using the PGK, fire supporters can support the maneuver commander with a more lethal and accurate form of fires,” said Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Neal, the battalion fire support noncommissioned officer for 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment. “By being more accurate, we can reinforce the maneuver commander’s confidence in his fires, allowing us to be relevant in the current fight.”

The PGK allows field artillerymen to get back into the fight and continue to support and protect ground forces. Additionally, Army documents say the “near-precision” capability the PGK provides “allows operational commanders to engage assigned targets and rapidly achieve desired effects while minimizing collateral damage.”

The PGK is a fuze set on conventional artillery ammunition that allows for more accurate fires. The system is compatible with two standard artillery rounds, including the M795 High Explosive and M549/A1 Rocket Assisted Projectile. It is designed to utilize the basic characteristics of more advanced “smart” munitions and put them to use with conventional rounds.

The PGK system uses built-in software, a Global Positioning System receiver, and small “canards,” or aerodynamic fins, to provide more accuracy to the round’s trajectory. As the round follows its ballistic trajectory, the GPS receiver provides the round’s current location and flight pattern. The system compares that data to the target’s coordinates. With this “should hit” vs. “will hit” data, the fins rotate to make small corrections to the ballistic trajectory that ultimately guide the projectile on a more accurate path.

Spc. Evan Clayton, an advanced field artillery tactical data system operator with 1st Platoon, Battery B, said the difference in accuracy between rounds fired with conventional fuzes and those fired with PGK were noticed immediately.

“Our rounds are always on target, that’s something we pride ourselves on as a platoon,” he said. “But watching the PGK’s impact on top of each other, round after round, was definitely impressive. The accuracy was definitely noticeable.”

The accuracy of area fire weapons is based on “circular error probability,” or CEP. This means for any given target a circle can be drawn around it. Based on the characteristics and nature of the weapon system, the round may impact anywhere inside of that circle. The CEP for conventional rounds increases with the range to the target, while the PGK’s CEP remains constant at any range.

PGK allows for more precise artillery and for fewer civilian casualties on the battlefield. The field artillery has already proven the effectiveness of expensive “smart” munitions. Now they have a cheaper alternative, which still provides the same effective results.

The 15th Field Artillery Regiment is not the first unit to receive the PGK. Training on the equipment actually began in Afghanistan in March. The first successful firing during training happened, April 2. Initial fielding of the system will be complete by the end of June.

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Enhanced Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Successful In Non-Intercept Flight Test

By on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Raytheon Company’s upgraded Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle played a mission-critical role in a non-intercept flight test of Boeing’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense program. The EKV is a vital component of the GMD’s Ground-Based Interceptor.

The EKV allows the GBI to lock on and eliminate high-speed ballistic missile warheads in space using nothing more than the force of impact.

“Rigorous non-intercept flight tests are important in proving the effectiveness and operational capability of ballistic missile defense weapons and their various components,” said Wes Kremer, Raytheon Missile Systems’ vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems. “Today’s test allowed us to challenge the EKV in a series of realistic outer-space environments, which gives us a broad range of data prior to moving toward an intercept scenario.”

During the test, the EKV performed as planned, maneuvering the interceptor to the appropriate altitude and closing velocity required for an intercept.

“The sole purpose of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program is to defend the homeland from the threat of ballistic missile attack,” said Kremer. “This test moves us one step closer to an intercept flight test in 2013.”

Leveraging more than two decades of kill vehicle technology expertise, the EKV is designed to destroy incoming ballistic missile threats by colliding with them, a concept often described as “hit to kill.”

  • The EKV has an advanced multi-color sensor used to detect and discriminate incoming warheads from other objects.
  • The EKV also has its own propulsion, communications link, discrimination algorithms, guidance and control system, and computers to support target selection and intercept.
  • Deployed and operational today, the EKV has had eight successful intercepts throughout the life of the program.

Raytheon Company, with 2012 sales of $24 billion and 68,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass.

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Supacat Delivers Enhanced SOV to Australia

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Supacat HMT Extenda 6x6 equipped with remote weapon station and pintle mounted 7.62mm machine gun.

Supacat HMT Extenda 6×6 equipped with remote weapon station and pintle mounted 7.62mm machine gun.

Last month Supacat has delivered the first prototype of its new special operations vehicle to the Australian Defence Force. In April 2012 Supacat emerged the preferred bidder to provide a prototype vehicle for the Special Operations Vehicle element of the Australian Defence Material Organisation (DMO)’s JP2097 Ph 1B (REDFIN) program. The vehicle is the latest version of Supacat’s Special Forces HMT Extenda. The new vehicle retains a high level of commonality with the Australian Army’s existing Nary HMT fleet, delivered by Supacat in 2009, but provides improved capabilities, particularly in crew protection and vehicle versatility. The DMO will use the prototype during the evaluation phase in support of the options that will be provided to Government at second pass.

For this program Supacat Pty Ltd. has partnered with a team of 14 Australian companies. Supacat Team Australia partners include: Aerostaff, Andrew Engineering, Baker and Provan, Broens Industries, Cablex, Eggler Consulting Engineers, Hallmark Logistics & Engineering, Hofmann Engineering, Marand Precision Engineering, PS Management Consultants, QinetiQ, Tectonica Australia, Unique Solution Partners and VEEM. The team is also working with Elbit Systems of Australia – a subsidiary of the Israeli C4ISR and battle management systems and equipment provider for the Australian military.

In March 2012 Supacat Pty Ltd, the local subsidiary of the British high mobility vehicle specialist acquired the business assets and staff of engineering design services provider, Melbourne, AustraliaUnique Solution Partners Pty Ltd. ”Supacat’s REDFIN 1B solution offers capability improvements in the key areas of firepower, protection, capacity, operability and safety, based upon direct feedback from the worldwide operational use of existing HMT fleets. There are also a number of additional options offered that the ADF may wish to choose,” Mr Mick Halloran Managing Director, Supacat Pty Ltd  said.

HMTExtendaThe new vehicle, while retaining a high level of commonality with the Australian Army’s existing `Nary` HMT fleet, delivered by Supacat in 2009, provides improved capabilities, particularly, in the areas of crew protection and vehicle versatility. Supacat’s HMT series combines high levels of mobility, protection, payload and firepower. Designed for use by Special Forces, the HMT Extenda is is the most capable vehicle in its class. Its unique in being convertible to either a 4×4 or 6×6 configuration, to meet different operational requirements by inserting or removing a self-contained third axle unit. The vehicle can be supplied with optional mine blast and ballistic protection kits and with a variety of mission hampers, weapons, communications, ISTAR and force protection equipment to suit a wide range of operational roles.

Nick Ames, Managing Director of Supacat Ltd, said, “The REDFIN 1B award is pivotal to Supacat’s expansion and confirms the superiority of our HMT series as the Special Operations `vehicle of choice`.  With our development of an in-country design and engineering capability, it positions Supacat to access future opportunities in the expanding Australian defence market as well as in diversified industry sectors in the Asia Pacific region”.

Supacat HMT 6x6 SOV was selected for testing for the REDFIN JP project. Photo: SUpacat

Supacat HMT 6×6 SOV was selected for testing for the REDFIN 1B (JP2097 Ph 1B)  project. Photo: Supacat

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Enhanced T56 Engine Could save Billions in C-130H Operating Costs

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The US Air Force began testing a C-130H Hercules  tactical transport aircraft powered by an enhanced T-56 engine. According to the manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, the Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement is designed to deliver fuel savings and reliability improvements, resulting in improved life cycle costs. The first C-130H test aircraft began flying recently at the US Edwards Air Force Base, CA. The Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement program is expected to enable the USAF to continue to operate its C-130H fleet until 2040, and a USAF analysis estimated its long-term savings from the Series 3.5 enhancements could reach $2 Billion.

The T56-A13 Series 3.5 improvements reduce fuel consumption by 7.9 percent, improve hot day performance by increasing maximum engine torque limit to 48 degrees celsius and improve turbine life by reducing inlet temperature by 82 degrees celsius.

The Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement has already demonstrated greater than 8 percent fuel burn improvement in ground tests, using proven technologies from other Rolls-Royce commercial and military engines, including new blade and vane materials and advanced turbine airfoil aerodynamic designs. The Series 3.5 will also improve performance in ‘hot and high’ conditions.

Tom Bell, Rolls-Royce, President, Customer Business – Defense, said, “We look forward to carrying out flight tests to confirm what we have already demonstrated in the test cell – significant savings in fuel costs, improved reliability and performance. Rolls-Royce has invested to help the US Air Force and other operators around the world meet their goal of reducing fuel costs, while also extending the life of the C-130 fleet and potentially saving billions of dollars.”

The improvements

The engine improvements can be accomplished as part of a conventional engine overhaul, and do not require any aircraft or engine control system modifications. Each C-130 aircraft has four Rolls-Royce T56 engines, with approximately 220 C-130H models eligible for upgrades.

The Series 3.5 program will help the Air Force to achieve its goal of reducing consumption of aviation fuel by 10 percent by 2015.

C130H engine test

A C-130H takes off from Edwards Sept. 14 with an enhanced Rolls-Royce engine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Cannon)

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