Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘ISR’ Category

72nd ISRS In Line With SPAFORGEN model

Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) —  

The 72nd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron held a readiness exercise at Peterson Space Force Base, May 8. The exercise focused on practicing mission-essential tasks, training Guardians in a low-threat environment and validating unit readiness for deployments.

“Our Guardians will be able to go through the entire deployment process, from required training to using equipment, as they exercise our mission essential tasks,” said 1st Lt. Wyatt Packard, 72nd ISRS operations flight commander. “This will validate the previous training they undertook in their ‘Prepare Phase’ of [Space Force Generation].”

A framework that the USSF is using to present forces to combatant commands, SPAFORGEN provides force element packaging tailored to meet combatant commander’s requirements.

“SPAFORGEN is the model we use to build readiness. It is based on the straightforward observation that day-to-day space operations do not prepare Guardians for the challenges they will face in a high-intensity combat environment… Under SPAFORGEN, the force elements that comprise combat squadrons and detachments rotate through three phases. During the Prepare Phase, Guardians build expertise in assigned roles. Next comes the Ready Phase where Guardians participate in advanced training to equip them for high-intensity conflict. Guardians then rotate into the Commit Phase as part of a combat squadron or combat detachment. Once complete, they rotate back into the Prepare Phase and begin the process again,” according to Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman in his 26th CSO Notice to Guardians published April 19.

Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hahnrauch, exercise lead and 72nd ISRS operations flight chief, discussed the organizational structure of how the units are designed to operate.

“The goal is to collect radio frequencies, provide electromagnetic support and then conduct reporting,” Hahnrauch said. “The six-person crew is designed with mobility and survivability as a priority. This team structure is designed for 24/7 operations and minimal support from other military forces to accomplish the designed tasks.”

The 72nd ISRS uses Deployed ISR Support Crews, which are modular, agile teams designed for worldwide deployment and operations, Hahnrauch said. They are composed of five components.

“These components are collection apertures, processors, communication suites, data relay and temporary Secure Compartmentalized Information Facilities,” Hahnrauch said. “Each variation of DISC is trained on slightly different equipment and DISCs are scaled up or down depending on the systems they are operating.”

Communication technologies have rapidly advanced in the last 20 years and the need to advance U.S. collection systems has increased.

In cyberspace, the barriers to entry are continually reduced and more actors can enter the domain with relative ease, Hahnrauch said. Military systems are increasingly disconnected and do not rely on communications and when over-the-horizon communications are required, dedicated military satellite communications are leveraged. This presents opportunities for cyberspace, electromagnetic warfare and space operations.

“Failure to field and employ expeditionary, mobile collection systems will place the joint force at a disadvantage in cyberspace operations, electromagnetic warfare and space operations and degrade our ability to produce the intelligence necessary to drive operations across the spectrum of competition and conflict,” Packard said. “We will continue to execute iterations of this training event with the intent of mission rehearsal for contested environment operations. In the future, we’ll be incorporating more austere components into the exercise to provide a dynamic and mobile collection with the ability to rapidly deploy, maneuver and communicate in a high-end fight. Our capabilities continue to grow and expand.”

The 72nd ISRS is a unit within Space Delta 7, with the mission to provide expeditionary ISR in addition to electromagnetic support to joint and allied partners worldwide.

By Keefer Patterson

Space Base Delta 1 Public Affairs

Bounce Imaging Releases New TSM-Enabled 360° Cameras Powered by TrellisWare; Part of $11M in New Contracts with DoD

Tuesday, May 7th, 2024

Several Hundred Mesh-Radio-Enabled 360° Cameras to Fill Situational Awareness Capabilities Gap for US and NATO Allies

BUFFALO, N.Y., May 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bounce Imaging and TrellisWare Technologies, Inc. are pleased to announce the release of two new camera systems integrating TrellisWare’s Mobile Ad Hoc Network (MANET) radio modules into Bounce Imaging’s 360° tactical cameras for a longer-range and more inter-operable situational awareness solution. An order for several hundred of these systems to U.S. special operations units represents the largest part of $11 million in new DoD contracts awarded to Bounce Imaging, with shipments beginning this month.

By integrating Bounce Imaging’s Recce360TW throwable camera and its Land Shark TW K9 camera with TrellisWare’s robust TW-650 TSM Shadow® Core Board Module, operators can continue to leverage the combat-proven cameras to maintain situational awareness, now with enhanced resilience against electronic warfare. The incorporation of this communication pathway facilitates seamless collaboration with other unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) platforms as a long-range payload. Deployable by tossing, tethering, or mounting, warfighters can evaluate environmental circumstances from all angles simultaneously before engaging.

“We’re proud to offer cutting-edge tools that easily fit into an operator’s drop pouch, rapidly deploy in even the most contested environments and deliver crucial context on field conditions directly to ATAK devices, supporting our servicemen with the decision quality necessary to execute successful operations,” said Mark Fargason, Bounce Imaging COO. “We remain committed to delivering systems at low cost and high inter-operability with existing platforms like TrellisWare to provide intelligence that keeps soldiers safer.”

“TrellisWare is proud to team with Bounce Imaging on the integration of our TW-650 TSM Shadow Core Board Module into their Recce360 TW Ball camera system,” said George Roesch, director of Global SOF for TrellisWare. “The Recce 360 TW Ball is one of the most unique solutions to leverage our TSM® waveform to deliver a highly impactful capability to our combined users. It is great to have Bounce Imaging join the powerful TSM Ecosystem!”

In addition to the above contracts, the company has also recently delivered its first shipment of TrellisWare-enabled K9 cameras to one of several NATO allies pursuing Bounce Imaging technology deployments, and its cameras are in active use by U.S. partners in conflict zones.

The company recently won $5M in development contracts with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to continue to address the most pressing challenges faced by the USAF and broader DoD. This includes next-generation systems that incorporate fully panoramic thermal video and 5G communications modules.

Over the last four years, Bounce Imaging’s technology has been extensively validated in the Army Expeditionary Warrior Equipment (AEWE) and 10X Platoon exercises, as well as multiple U.S. and NATO ally deployments abroad. Bounce Imaging tactical cameras support domestic operations every day with over 600 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, CBP, NYPD and others across the United States.

Meet with OKSI at SOF Week

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

GA-ASI Adding AESA Antenna to EagleEye Radar

Tuesday, April 30th, 2024

New Antenna Will Double Range and Enable Additional Radar Enhancements

SAN DIEGO – 24 April 2024 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is continuing its support of EagleEye multi-mode radar development with a company investment to add an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antenna and associated software that will increase range and deliver significant mode enhancements. AESA will be a “drop-in” hardware upgrade to the existing EagleEye radar and could be an option for the new Gray Eagle 25M (GE 25M) aircraft assembly when ready.

“We expect the AESA antenna to more than double the range for EagleEye,” said Jeff Hettick, GA-ASI vice president of Agile Mission Systems. “The increased range and optimized multi-mode performance of the radar are perfectly tailored to provide deep sensing capability in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO). That will allow the aircraft to operate well outside Weapons Effects Zone of most threat systems adding a layer of survivability supporting the Stand-Off survivability with Stand-In effects of long-range sensors. This is a key component of the Gray Eagle 25M Unmanned Aircraft System being developed for the U.S. Army.”

AESA antennas replace the mechanically steered dish antennas of earlier-generation radars with a solid-state, all-electronic emitter. In addition to enhancing the radar’s performance, by replacing the motor and other components that physically move the radar dish, AESA greatly improves repairability and reliability.

As part of the EagleEye development, GA-ASI will improve target detection range using Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML). GA-ASI expects to have a working lab prototype of the new AESA component by the end of this year, with plans to conduct flight tests in 2025 and operational demonstrations on GE 25M after that.

EagleEye is a multi-mode radar that builds on years of pioneering expertise by GA-ASI. Using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Eagle Eye enables operators to look in detail through clouds, smoke, dust, haze, or other conditions that might obscure a purely visual sensor. And for the first time on the Gray Eagle platform, EagleEye delivers radar-based Full Motion Video (FMV) called “Video SAR,” which enables live visual tracking of moving targets via the radar system.

The EagleEye radar performs Moving Target Indication (MTI), detects changes, builds strip maps, and yields other precise insights to analysts, commanders, and operators. With its Maritime Wide Area Search (MWAS) mode, EagleEye also provides a dedicated maritime MTI mode for tracking and targeting vessels and further supports the MDO mission set of the U.S. Army, particularly in support of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) mission, but also in Europe, Africa and the Middle East where there is an increased need for maritime reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, which is critical to achieve information dominance and overmatch.

Saab Signs GlobalEye Support Contract with UAE

Thursday, January 25th, 2024

Saab and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Defence have signed a contract and Saab has received an order regarding in-service support for the GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) solution. The order value is approximately USD 190 million with a three-year contract period that runs until 2026.

The contract includes maintenance and logistics support, as well as training services.

“This agreement solidifies Saab’s role in ensuring that GlobalEye remains mission-ready. We look forward to further strengthening our partnership with the UAE Air Force and Air Defence and providing long-term local support,” says Carl-Johan Bergholm, head of Saab’s business area Surveillance. 

GlobalEye is an advanced multi-domain AEW&C solution with an array of active and passive sensors that provide long-range detection and identification of objects in the air, at sea and over land.

By providing real-time information to units in air forces, armies and navies, GlobalEye enables enhanced situational awareness of the surrounding areas and early detection of threats.

Elistair and Rheinmetall Canada Partner on Unmanned ISR Solution for Military Users

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Partnership follows successful demonstration of KHRONOS tethered drone and Mission Master SP unmanned ground vehicle for military officials at Rheinmetall Canada’s facility

PARIS—January 16, 2024—Elistair, a leader in long-endurance, tethered unmanned aircraft systems, announced that it has partnered with Rheinmetall Canada Inc. to provide military customers with an on-the-move ISR solution that combines Elistair’s fully automated KHRONOS tethered drone with the Mission Master family of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).

The new partnership follows closely on the heels of a successful demonstration of the KHRONOS and the Mission Master SP, an electric-powered UGV designed for resupply missions, overwatch, and payload carriage, before undisclosed European military officials at Rheinmetall Canada’s test track in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec.

“We are very excited to be collaborating with a major defense contractor like Rheinmetall Canada,” said Guilhem de Marliave, CEO of Elistair. “By combining their Mission Master family of UGVs with our push-button, long-endurance, automated KHRONOS drone, Rheinmetall Canada can provide customers with an advanced solution for unmanned reconnaissance and convoy escort.”

Elistair first unveiled KHRONOS last November. The tethered drone deploys from a transportable dronebox in under two minutes and can stay aloft, even when operating from a moving platform, for up to 24 hours at a stretch, providing continuous day/night coverage of an area 10 kilometers in radius.

The 66-pound KHRONOS can also fly in poor weather and in GPS/GNSS-Denied and RF-denied environments.

“And thanks to its advanced automated features, it is easy to control, saving customers the heavy investment in training drone operators,” de Marliave said.

“The Mission Master family of UGVs can carry a variety of ISR payloads,” said Alain Tremblay, VP of Business Development and Innovation at Rheinmetall Canada. “But KHRONOS definitely has its advantages, and we see international interest given its innovative capacity to adapt to current and future complex theatres of operation.”

First deliveries of the KHRONOS dronebox are set for March.

TacHacker – Salt and Pepper Wireless Camera System

Thursday, January 4th, 2024

Black Hills Designs has shared instructions for the Salt and Pepper Wireless Camera System, a DIY project.

Salt and Pepper is a live streaming camera system which can be assembled relatively easily using readily available components and can be mass produced at an affordable price. As of this publication the Salt and Pepper camera unit costs under $25 and the support equipment to control several cameras costs under $50.

The camera system utilizes no existing infrastructure such as cell networks, WiFi, or SATCOM making them ideal for austere conditions and disaster scenarios. It utilizes its own network.

Salt and Pepper is capable of >200m of line of sight and 8 hours of continuous use with recommended battery.

For full instructions, including a video and links to components, visit www.blackhillsdesigns.net/product/salt-and-pepper-wireless-camera-system.

GAO Report Finds Special Operations Forces Should Slow Acquisition of Armed Overwatch Aircraft Until It Conducts Further Analysis

Monday, December 18th, 2023

Last week the Government Accountability Office issued a report regarding United States Special Operations Command’s Armed Overwatch program. In 2022, the command selected Air Tractor-L3Harris to provide 75 AT-802U Sky Warden aircraft to conduct Close Air Support, precision strike; and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance missions. The aircraft will be operated by Air Force Special Operations Command and organized into five squadrons, four operational and one for training.

Congress has never really been a fan of this program; there’s just not enough pork. It’s a propeller aircraft in an age of the Joint Strike Fighter which has components built in as many congressional districts as possible to spread the wealth.

Consequently, the House of Representatives issued House Report 117-118, accompanying the bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2022, which included a provision for GAO to review the Armed Overwatch program. This is first of two reports.

What GAO found:

“GAO found that SOCOM is limited in its ability to justify this acquisition target for three reasons:

1 Documentation indicates that SOCOM decided on the size of the fleet before conducting the required analyses.

2 SOCOM did not assess how changes in the aircraft’s capabilities could affect the number needed for operations. Specifically, the aircraft selected is more capable than the one modeled. SOCOM is also determining how to adapt the aircraft to meet intelligence requirements that may affect demand.

3 SOCOM has not reevaluated its needs despite changes to operational missions (such as the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan) and force structure reductions under consideration.

Because of these reasons SOCOM is also not well-positioned to justify its acquisition timeline. According to SOCOM, changes to the acquisition timeline might affect the cost per aircraft. By ensuring that it thoroughly assesses its needs against adjustments in the cost per aircraft, SOCOM will be better able to make informed decisions and efficiently use the more than $2.2 billion it estimates that it will spend for the program through FY 2028.”

What GAO recommends:

“GAO is making two recommendations, including that DOD (1) analyze the number of Armed Overwatch aircraft needed using valid assumptions and taking into account changes in SOCOM’s operating environment, and (2) limit the acquisition of the aircraft until SOCOM completes the analysis. DOD concurred with the first recommendation and partially concurred with the second, describing its need for training aircraft.”

You can read the full report here.

While I personally feel that the Armed Overwatch capability was needed about 20 years ago, I’m pleased to see that it is finally being sought. What’s more, I reject the death spiral thinking that this GAO report supports. The US defense establishment has fielded fewer and fewer weapon systems over the years and it’s getting to the point where we can easily be overwhelmed by larger numbers of less capable threat systems. The AO force size is based upon what the command says it needs and that comes from decades of operations worldwide. What’s more, they’ve conducted more than a few studies to determine both capability and force size. But those weren’t good enough for Congress, or GAO.

Admittedly, I’ve been critical in the past of USSOCOM’s very expensive air force, but considering the exquisite suite of capabilities it offers the nation, the bang has been worth the buck. In other programs, particularly aviation programs, USSOCOM has initially shortchanged itself and had to incrementally buy more platforms at ever increasing costs. I don’t want to see this happen again. The Armed Overwatch aircraft can come online relatively quickly once they get moving and field a very robust capability. GAO recommends slow rolling this thing. That’s is a mistake. This investment of 75 airframes seems quite reasonable considering SOCOM is divesting of other, less capable platforms which cannot conduct both ISR and CAS functions.

Eric Graves

Editor