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Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

DARPA, Services Demonstrate Battlefield Airspace Deconfliction Software

Friday, March 10th, 2023

Tools enable planes, helos, missiles, uncrewed aircraft to operate simultaneously in contested airspace

DARPA’s Air Space Total Awareness for Rapid Tactical Execution (ASTARTE) program recently demonstrated new automated flightpath-planning software that successfully deconflicted friendly missiles, artillery fire, and manned and unmanned aircraft while avoiding enemy fires in a simulated battle in contested airspace. In a demonstration held at the U.S. Army’s Mission Command Battle Lab, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, in late 2022, the ASTARTE software seamlessly integrated with the Army’s Integrated Mission Planning and Airspace Control Tools (IMPACT) software suite. IMPACT is managed by the Aviation Mission Systems and Architecture Project Office in the Program Executive Office for Aviation.

The ASTARTE Program, which began in 2021, is a joint collaboration between DARPA, the Army, and the U.S. Air Force to enable efficient and effective airspace operations and de-confliction in a highly congested anti-access/area denial, known as A2/AD, environment. The program’s goal is to provide an accurate, real-time common operational picture of the airspace over an Army division, enabling long-range fire missions, as well as manned and unmanned aircraft operations, to occur safely in the same airspace.

“The demonstration showed that complex route alternatives could be created in seconds, leveraging available permissive airspace to avoid airspace where conflicts would potentially occur,” said Paul Zablocky, ASTARTE program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. “There are many reasons this integration helps the warfighter. Coordinating and consolidating services at the user level greatly reduces procedural burden, which speeds the enterprise. ASTARTE also increases accuracy by automating tasks and reducing inherent human error. Most importantly, the ASTARTE and IMPACT integration forms a foundation of artificial intelligence-enabled services that will interact with other service component AI tools such as the Air Force’s Kessel Run All Domain Operations Suite (KRADOS) for planning and the All Domain Common Platform (ADCP) for operations.”

ASTARTE performer Raytheon Technologies developed an automated flightpath-planning capability for fixed and rotary wing aircraft, which includes the capability to deconflict airspace use by routing through or around defined airspace coordinating measures, commonly called ACMs, in both space and time. General Dynamics Mission Systems (GMDS) developed the Army’s IMPACT suite, which adds a Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) class of data-enabled, over-the-horizon tools to existing airspace management systems to form a multidomain capability supporting the Army’s 2030 Multi-Domain Operations vision.

During the demonstration, GDMS and Raytheon identified the interfaces allowing the ASTARTE flightpath planner to receive flight path requests with associated constraints from IMPACT (e.g., timing, altitude range, start and end points), and returned complete deconflicted flight paths back to IMPACT on demand.

The ASTARTE-IMPACT demonstration also illustrated a novel approach for transitioning cutting-edge microservices and software components developed by the science and technology community very quickly into military service programs of records.

ASTARTE is currently wrapping up Phase 2 integration efforts and is scheduled to begin Phase 3 live testing this summer.

– DARPA Public Affairs

Air Commandos Co-Host SAWS, Champion Transformation and Partnerships

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023


Air Force Special Operations Command and the Global SOF Foundation co-hosted the annual Special Air Warfare Symposium [SAWS] and expo at the Emerald Coast Convention Center Feb. 28 to Mar. 2, 2023.

The symposium featured speakers from across the special operations aviation community that included AFSOC senior leadership, defense officials, industry representatives as well as allies and foreign partners from more than 10 countries that were focused on integration and cooperation to remain relevant as the threat environment continues to evolve.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Wolfe Davidson, AFSOC deputy commander, delivered opening remarks to symposium participants.

“The threat environment continues to evolve across the globe and we now have contested environments in areas previously not considered high risk due to the continued proliferation of threat systems,” said Davidson. “This [symposium] is an opportunity to get closer to our industry partners who are doing greats things in technology and are critical as we look to adapt our tools to the fight we have.”

Military and industry speakers identified an on-going need to collaborate to prepare, prevent, and prevail against current and future adversaries over the course of the 3-day event.

“We must continue to adapt and look for opportunities to innovate and transform our Air Commandos to remain the most capable, most lethal Air Force in the world,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, AFSOC commander. “AFSOC, alongside our industry partners, has been transforming…and we continue to look for opportunities and avenues, like the Special Air Warfare Symposium, to do so.”

The ongoing transformation of AFSOC involves a new force generation cycle, the implementation of mission command, the development of Special Operations Task Groups and Units as well as creation of multi-domain theater-focused squadrons.

“Although change can be difficult, irrelevance is worse,” said Bauernfeind. “We have a proud history and heritage of transformation to meet the mission…and we too shall rise to ensure our nation’s security.”

By TSgt Jonathan McCallum, AFSOC

HENSOLDT to Strengthen CAE Aviation Surveillance Fleet with High-Performance Radar

Saturday, February 25th, 2023

PrecISR multi-mission radar offers unique detection and tracking capabilities

Taufkirchen/Germany, 22 February 2023 – Sensor solutions specialist HENSOLDT will supply another multi-mission surveillance radar PrecISR™ to one of the biggest airborne surveillance providers, CAE Aviation, Luxembourg. CAE Aviation, which operates a large fleet of surveillance aircraft, has decided to renew its trust in HENSOLDT by awarding them with a contract to deliver another PrecISR™1000. This is the second order, after HENSOLDT having delivered the first PrecISR™ in 2021.

PrecISR™ radars are currently operated by experienced ISR operators from CAE Aviation in challenging areas of operations for various types of missions and for very demanding end-users.

PrecISR™ offers impressive Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) / Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) capabilities, enabling its operators to detect and track, in real time, a very large diversity of small moving targets of interest (troops, convoys, suspicious vehicles, etc..). PrecISR™ technology ensures a reliable and accurate surveillance of static and moving threats, despite adverse weather conditions which might obstruct the EO/IR sensor results.

“We feel really proud that CAE Aviation keeps investing in new ISR capabilities by maintaining its trust in our plug-and-play high performance radar”, said Pierre Marquis, Sales Director Airborne ISR Radars at HENSOLDT.

“The versatility of the Hensoldt PrecISR™ 1000 radar allows us to meet the needs of our most demanding customers, regardless of the mission profiles we perform “, said David Attali, CEO at CAE Aviation.

PrecISR™ is the right solution for an operational and battle proven multi-mission radar system. Because of its compact design, the airborne platform integration of PrecISR™ is simplified significantly compared to other radars.

The superior performance of PrecISR™ enables airborne operators to accomplish large area surveillance in one flight pass and get top-notched results in real time up to 370km range. Even in the most difficult environmental conditions and sea states, PrecISR™ operators will take advantage of an unrivalled level of situational awareness with significant flight cost savings.

193rd Special Operations Wing Welcomes New Aircraft, Mission

Saturday, February 25th, 2023

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – The 193rd Special Operations Wing became the first Air National Guard unit to receive an MC-130J Commando II aircraft Feb. 2 as part of its mission conversion to a flagship mission of Air Force Special Operations Command.

“This is a monumental day for the 193rd, ANG, and AFSOC. The Commando II mission will ensure the 193rd SOW remains not only relevant but also at the forefront of the battlespace for years to come,” said Col. Edward Fink, 193rd SOW commander.

Led by the efforts of Lt. Col. Benton Jackson, unit conversion officer, the wing has been preparing for its mission conversion since 2021. Jackson believes the hard work of 193rd SOW Airmen and the support of the community led to the completion of this first step.

“Seeing the Commando II on our flight line is a tangible symbol of the progress we’ve made as a wing in bringing this versatile mission to central Pennsylvania,” Jackson said. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of this team, and I have the utmost confidence we have the right culture and people to continue with a successful mission conversion.”

For decades, the wing operated the EC-130J Commando Solo as part of the only airborne Military Information Support Operations broadcasting platform in the U.S. military. Col. Jaime Ramirez, 193rd Special Operations Maintenance Group commander, sees the move to the Commando II as a major shift in the unit, AFSOC and ANG.

“The Commando II is the special operations workhorse in that it performs many different types of missions and performs them well,” Ramirez said. “There is no doubt in my mind the aircraft that landed here today will be integral in any future conflict.”

Ramirez said the wing maintained the full operating capabilities of the outgoing aircraft while simultaneously preparing for the arriving mission.

“We were ready to maintain the Commando II well before it arrived, all while never losing a step in maintaining and launching EC-130s,” Ramirez said. “That only happens if you have the best people. I’d put our maintainers up against anyone.”

While the 193rd SOMXG is prepared to maintain the aircraft, the 193rd Special Operations Group is postured to fly them immediately. Col. Gordon Frankenfield, 193rd SOG commander, said his Airmen are very familiar with the aircraft and mission set.

“We’ve executed similar mission sets for years, which likely contributed to AFSOC trusting us with this critically valuable aircraft,” Frankenfield said. “Our goal from Day One has been to operate the Commando II with the same potency as an active duty unit, and our aircrews are trained and ready to make that a reality.”

Frankenfield sees the Commando II’s arrival in Pennsylvania as an important strategic move domestically and abroad.

“The 193rd now offers something the U.S. military didn’t have before,” Frankenfield said. Special Operations Forces based in the Northeast now have a crucial air asset in their backyard to build their combat readiness. Combatant commanders have a much more robust and versatile capability to project air power in different geographic regions.”

The aircraft’s arrival at night was perhaps appropriate given the nature of its mission. The Commando II flies clandestine – or low visibility – single or multi-ship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces by airdrop or air land and air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories.

“The Commando II is the embodiment of Agile Combat Employment and will present complex dilemmas to our adversaries. It’s a shadow in the dark and sends a clear message that the U.S. military owns the night,” Fink said. “The 193rd is ready today to add to the impressive lineage of the Commando II.”

By MSgt Alexander Farver, 193rd Special Operations Wing

RT Will Present for the First Time at IDEX its SkyStar Aerostat Family for Border and Strategic Facility Protection

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023

The systems can carry a variety of payloads and provide solutions for a wide range of defense and security missions

IDEX,  Abu Dhabi, UAE, February 20-24, Hall 1, Stand #01-B10  

February 13, 2023. RT LTA Systems Ltd. – a world-class designer, developer, and manufacturer of the SkyStar™ family of aerostats for use in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications applications – will present for the first time at IDEX its SkyStar aerostat systems for the protection of borders and strategic and sensitive facilities. The systems, which are used for intelligence and information gathering, can carry a variety of payloads, and provide solutions for a wide range of defense and security missions.

The aerostats can be operated in all weather conditions, with a wind limit of 40 knots, for up to 3 days with only a 20-minute re-inflation break between deployments. Requiring minimal crew, the high-mobility systems have a very small logistical footprint. SkyStar aerostat systems can be equipped with any payload, including Electro-Optic, Radio, Cellular, SIGINT, Early Warning, and many other types of sensors. RT will tailor a mobile tactical system to your needs and will ensure full reliability at the most cost-effective price for purchase and deployment.

The CEO of the company, Mr. Rami Shmueli, said, “We are happy about the opportunity to present our systems for the first time at this important exhibition. During our many years of experience in the field, our systems have accumulated more than four million operational hours at locations around the world. The ability of our aerostats to carry a wide range of payloads enables our customers to support the protection of borders and sensitive strategic facilities, as well as search and rescue missions.”

317th AW Brings Tactical Airlift to Battalion Mass Tactical Week

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023


The 317th Airlift Wing supported Battalion Mass Tactical Week at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, Jan. 22-28.

BMTW is a week of training simulating a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command 24-hour response scenario. Three C-130J Super Hercules from the 317th AW alongside three C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, trained with the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as an integrated force to provide strategic and tactical airpower.

“Events in the past, such as D-Day, have led to a demonstrated need for these events giving us now the ability to respond anywhere in the world, utilizing the strategic and tactical airpower of the C-130s and C-17s,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Miller, 317th Operations Group deputy commander and airlift mission commander.

Aircrews focused on meeting the Army’s scatter plan during BMTW by strategically spreading where the paratrooper, heavy equipment and container delivery systems containing supplies would land for ground personnel within the drop zone.

“Joint operations are always difficult and there is a clear need for us to continuously improve,” Miller said. “Being within this environment gets us out of our comfort zone. Moving to something a little more complicated makes us work together as an integrated force which ultimately improves ourselves.”

One of the challenges with BMTW was conducting dissimilar six-ship formations. There are risks associated with flying a dissimilar six-ship formation because of aircraft performance, such as differing slow-down speeds, power settings and altitudes.

“The timing of all of this matters,” Miller said. “When you combine all the different aspects of each aircraft in a high tempo environment, things can get missed. Deconfliction between the aircraft, ensuring the safety of our personnel by communicating and learning with the Army all matters for the mission’s success.”

Many risks were associated with executing BMTW properly, but through disciplined planning and execution, the aircrews and soldiers who participated have come out of BMTW having built a more strongly integrated team. 

“The 317th AW participation in BMTW enables continued development of an experienced and capable joint force. While airdrop is one of our oldest core competencies, this exercise allowed us to use emerging technologies to deliver our joint partners with more precision into the battlespace. The time we gain for them improves survivability and makes them even more lethal upon arrival,” said Col. Thomas Lankford, 317th AW commander.

By Airman 1st Class Ryan Hayman, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Special Air Warfare Symposium: 28 Feb – 2 March, Ft Walton Beach

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Global SOF Foundation is hosting the Special Air Warfare Symposium, 28 Feb – 2 March, in Ft Walton Beach, FL.

SAWS offers two days of general sessions focused on SOF aviation topics and an expo that will highlight top members of the special operations aviation industry as well as an array of networking and engagement opportunities.

Click here for a prospectus educating active duty members on what you’ll get out of attending this event.

HENSOLDT Develops SIGINT Pod Demonstrator for Eurodrone

Sunday, January 22nd, 2023

Latest technologies enable compact design for signals intelligence

Taufkirchen/Germany, 20 January 2023 – Sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT is developing sensor equipment that can be integrated into a pod to give the recently commissioned Eurodrone a signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability. The sensor technology for reconnaissance of radio and radar signals is based on a combination of the latest technologies in digitisation, electronic beam steering and metallic 3D printing, some of which HENSOLDT has already developed in its “Kalaetron” product family. The contract for the implementation and testing of a SIGINT demonstrator worth approximately 15 million euros has now been awarded by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).

“From our experience with other SIGINT projects and our own technology programmes, we are in a position to offer a flexible SIGINT solution for the Eurodrone that can be integrated into a pod, but can also be used networked with other platforms,” says Christoph Ruffner, Head of the Spectrum Dominance & Airborne Solutions Division at HENSOLDT. In addition to the sensor suite itself, HENSOLDT is also developing a system architecture for integrating the SIGINT capability into the future mission system of the Eurodrone as part of this contract.

The “Kalaetron” product family is already being used in self-protection and signals intelligence systems by the German Armed Forces, among others. On its own initiative, HENSOLDT has already demonstrated its communications reconnaissance capabilities (C-ESM) in ground and flight tests. The core elements of the system are a fully digitalised, broadband receiver, an electronically controllable antenna and a condensed structure of the electronic components that was only made possible by metallic 3D printing. In combination, these elements allow the SIGINT equipment to be incorporated into a compact pod system that can be easily integrated into flying platforms, but also scaled for sea and land applications.