IRST21 upgrades incoming ! | Royal Navy to field augmented reality on its warships | Saab joins AUS SEA 5000 industrial team
Boeing is being contracted to support the DoD’s Protected Tactical Enterprise Service program. Awarded by the Space and Missile Systems Center, the $383 million contract provides for development of a ground system that protects tactical satellite communications from enemy jamming. The Protected Tactical Enterprise Service (PTES) will be a hub-and-spoke system that reaches out to tactical warfighters and uses the WGS constellation. It will tap the Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW), which the government developed to provide secure communications in a frequency-agnostic format. The US military relies on a complex set of Military Satellite Communication (MILSATCOM) and tactical networks. These networks transport command and control (C2), sensor, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) information to enable timely and decisive operations. As electronic threats against satellite communication are rapidly advancing the US military needs more robust networks that allow its warfighters to securely and effectively communicate in the most congested electronic environments. Work will be performed at Boeing’s facility in El Segundo, California, and is expected to be completed by December 31, 2025.
The US Army Contracting Command is modifying a contract with Lockheed Martin. The company will receive an extra $79 million to cover further work on Apache night vision sensor systems, subcomponent production and technical services. Night vision is enabled by Lockheed’s M-TADS/PNVS Arrowhead. Arrowhead is an electro-optical and fire control system that the Apache helicopter pilots use for combat targeting of their Hellfire missiles and other weapons, as well as flying in day, night, or bad weather missions. The Apache’s night vision sensors work on the forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system, which detects the infrared light released by heated objects. The FLIR sensor has three fields-of-view, a multi-target tracker, multiple-code laser spot tracking, and internal boresight. Work locations and relevant funding will be determined with each order. The contract is set to run through October 2021.
Raytheon Vision System is being awarded with a follow-up contract for the Focused Opportunity Reaching Toward Reliable Electro-Optic Strategic Sensors (FORTRESS) program. The contract modification is priced at $19 million and is seeking to develop more capable mid-wave infrared focal plane arrays for persistent surveillance applications. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s FORTRESS program seeks to advance and maintain the state-of-the-art, scientific knowledge, growth, processing, and characterization capability in low-noise infrared sensor chip assemblies (SCAs) for national strategic space applications such as electro-optical surveillance satellites. Raytheon will produce larger and more resistant SCA’s that are able to withstand bombardment by space radiation, as well as laser attacks. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s factory in Goleta, California and is expected to be completed by February 2022.
Lockheed Martin is being tapped to continue to the next phase of its Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block II Infrared Search and Track (IRST) upgrade program. Awarded by Boeing, the $108 million contract allows for the development, platform integration, flight test and qualification of the IRST21 Block II sensor system installed on the US Navy’s Super Hornet fighter aircraft. IRST21 is a multi-function sensor system that has been designed to provide long-range detection and tracking of airborne threats in radar-denied environments. It is a passive, long-range sensor system that uses infrared search and track technology to detect and track heat coming off the engines of enemy aircraft. The IRST21 autonomously detects and tracks airborne targets at long ranges, and can merge the data with the fighters’ other sensors to provide a multi-dimensional view of threats. The Navy plans to field a 170 Block II sensor across its F-18 fleet.
Middle East & Africa
The Qatar Emiri Air Force expects to receive its first batch of F-15QA fighter jets by March 2021. This will be the first batch of the 36 unit order, with the remainder to be delivered in batches of four every three months. Qatar’s new F-15s will come with a totally remodeled cockpit featuring large panel touch screen displays and a new HUD display. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah inaugurated the F-15QA production line at Boeing’s St. Louis factory in August 2018. Qatar’s $12 billion F-15 order is part of a general drive to strengthen the country’s air power, which also includes the purchase of 12 Dassault Rafales and 24 Eurofighter Typhoons.
British defense contractor BAE Systems plans to soon introduce a new advanced combat systems technology to Royal Navy warships. As part of a $27 million investment, BAE plans to begin operational trials of an augmented-reality system sometime next year. During those initial trials BAE’s system will be installed on a Type 23 frigate, where the bridge watch officer will be equipped with augmented-reality glasses that allow the officer to blend real-world visuals with data generated by sensors, like radars and sonars, laid over the top in a similar fashion to the Striker II pilot’s helmet. At a later stage BAE plans to supplement the system with artificial intelligence as a tool to quickly process data and help reach crucial decisions faster. “These technologies have the potential to transform maritime warfare and greatly increase the situational awareness and efficiency of crews on board Royal Navy ships,” said BAE’s head of technology for naval systems Frank Cotton.
Swedish company Saab will collaborate with BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin to develop and integrate the new combat system for Australia’s Hunter-class frigates. Australia will procure a total of nine frigates under its SEA 5000 future frigate program. The Hunter-class is based on BAE’s Type 26 frigate, one of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warships. Hunter-class ships will mount an indigenous CEA Phased-Array Radar, integrated with the Aegis combat management system used by the US Navy. Equipped with a Mk 41 VLS the vessels will be able to shoot ESSMs and SM-2s. BAE is responsible for the design, integration, testing and activation of the combat system; Lockheed will manufacture and deliver the Aegis weapon system, while Saab Australia will build an advanced tactical interface. “The fact that BAE Systems Australia has selected Saab as partner is further proof of our world-class combat system integration capabilities,” Anders Carp, head of Saab’s business area surveillance, said in a company announcement on Friday. “The extensive skills and experience that we bring to this project will complement those of BAE Systems.”
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