Daily Briefing: News Snippets

A roundup of recent military embedded industry bends and trends, including: Lockheed Martin technologies on the move, VITA keeps its track shoes on, Raytheon SDB program weaponry to take flight, Navy issues “urgent procurement” of Counter RCIED, USMC 'System of systems' garners upgrades.

NASA’s TDRS gets more modern

NASA’s Tracking Data and Relay Satellite (TDRS) constellation is about to get a facelift, per a recent contract awarded by NASA to General Dynamics C4 Systems. The IDIQ contract, with an option-inclusive potential value of $642.2 million, stipulates that General Dynamics modernizes TDRS’s network and ground system. Specifically, a new ground-system architecture will be implemented to perpetuate tracking coverage and space-to-ground telecommunications for near-Earth and low-Earth missions. Because the TDRS network supports the entire gamut of NASA human flight and scientific space missions, including the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope (Figure 1), integration will be a strong focus to avoid interruption of present space network operations. Contract work is slated through June 2017. The TDRS modernization falls under the NASA Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) project umbrella.

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Figure 1: Hubble Space Telescope image courtesy of NASA/hubblesite.org
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“GMTI radar aboard the WASP UAV?”

… That is the question on DARPA officials’ minds these days, thus the agency recently commissioned OEwaves to find out just whether GMTI onboard the WASP UAV was feasible – or not. OEwaves conducted the study utilizing both conventional RF technologies and the company’s proprietary microwave photonics technologies. OEwaves demonstrated, via Whispering Gallery Mode (WGM) optical resonator technology, that a GMTI-parameter-resembling transmit/receive capability was possible – and compatible with the WASP’s power envelope, weight, and size. The study’s findings are anticipated for use in an unnamed future DARPA project. Meanwhile, OEwaves’ crystalline WGM optical resonator technology, in addition to the photodetector and miniature resonator’s small bandwidth, is touted to deliver “one-step photonic mixing,” as opposed to traditional super heterodyne receivers that require several steps in filtering and mixing.

DARPA project aims to reduce surveillance woes

Sorting through copious amounts of surveillance video data can prove a daunting task – and one that typically results in many false positives – but one that can be managed more effectively. Case in point: DARPA and Kitware recently signed a nearly $14 million contract stipulating that Kitware develops software that can interactively and automatically glean actionable intelligence derived from Wide Area Motion Imagery (WAMI) video of rural, suburban, and urban areas. The software aims to thwart the stops and occlusions that can fragment tracks, particularly in urban locales. The problem solver: algorithms that can integrate local events, identify threats, then conduct forensic analysis. The algorithms will then spawn the Persistent Stare Exploitation and Analysis System (PerSEAS) software prototype, which will utilize context, normalcy, and activity models to provide operator ease in identifying new intelligence. To reduce the frequency of false alarms, the models are relationship-based to make suspicious anomalies more evident versus benign events. The contract’s Phase I research is slated for completion in 2012.

Raytheon APY-10 goes international

A recent contract between Boeing and Raytheon Company serves as impetus for development of the first international version of Raytheon’s APY-10 surveillance radar. The international APY-10 iteration is slated for installation on Boeing’s in-development P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, the P-8A’s first international variant procured by the Indian Navy. APY-10’s mission is to provide actionable, accurate intelligence for ISR and anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, come rain or shine. Raytheon is additionally working to fulfill its U.S. Navy/Boeing contract to render six APY-10s for the P-8A (Figure 2), four of which were already delivered.

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Figure 2: P-8A Poseidon, photo courtesy of Boeing
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Simulation eases training at Whidbey Island

Tactical training just got a whole lot easier, not to mention safer, for EA-18G Growler and EA-6B Prowler (Figure 3) operators stationed at Whidbey Island, the locale the entire host of the aforementioned aircraft attack squadrons call “home.” The facilitator: a recent contract between the U.S. Navy and Tactical Communications Group (TCG), specifying that TCG’s Ground Tactical Data Link System (GTS) tactical training and simulation system be used for rendering realistic tactical training for ground operational personnel and pilots. GTS, geared for terrestrial TDL networks, enables military air operators to establish live tactical data link networks and serves to automate and simplify Link 16 network entry processes. Combat scenarios are also realistically rendered via dual-screen display of both the cockpit and the full tactical situation at hand, to increase situational awareness capabilities.

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Figure 3: Training just got a whole lot easier for EA-6B Prowler (pictured) and EA-18G Growler pilots and operators at Whidbey Island. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Philip Wagner Jr.
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Harris Corp.’s Falcon radios travel to Asia

Harris Corporation’s Falcon radios are about to embark on a very long voyage: The company has reported multiple orders, amounting to $99 million, from an unnamed military customer in Asia. Specifically, the RF-7800S, RF-7800V, RF-7800M, RF-5800H, and RF-7800W Falcon II and Falcon III software-defined tactical radio systems will form the backbone of a multilevel C4I system’s next phase, to be completed by Harris. Falcon radios are suited for vehicular, handheld, or manpack radios and additionally meet the U.S. military’s JTRS specifications for global net-centricity. The RF-7800S wearable secure radio affords soldier communications over distances exceeding 2 km; the RF-7800V renders data connectivity up to 192 Kbps; the RF-7800M wideband tactical radio offers networked comms over the 30 MHz to 2 GHz frequency range; RF-5800H is a High Frequency (HF) radio providing Automatic Link Establishment (3G-ALE); and RF-7800W is a wireless IP networking radio providing secure broadband connectivity.

Lockheed Martin’s HULC flexes its muscles

Perhaps similar to its sound-alike namesake, Lockheed Martin’s HULC will soon get an opportunity for muscle flexing in the form of testing – per a recent $1.1 million contract between the company and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center. The contract affords testing of the upgraded HULC system, a hydraulic- actuated anthropomorphic exoskeleton featuring robotic legs powered by an onboard microcomputer and optimized control software to facilitate wearer-synchronized exoskeleton movement. HULC is designed to ease dismounted soldiers’ injuries and fatigue resulting from carrying heavy loads of combat equipment. HULC is battery powered and can provide crawls, deep squats, and upper-body lifting, with virtually no operator exertion. Testing will comprise HULC’s effects on operator performance, soldier energy expenditures during HULC use, and operator learning speeds when moving around or carrying different loads.

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Figure 4: The HULC exoskeleton will soon undergo $1 million worth of testing. Lockheed Martin photo
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USMC “System of Systems” garners upgrades

The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va., and L-3 Communications, Nova Engineering, Inc. recently put pen to paper for upgrade/repairs, equipment systems, and program management pertaining to the Tactical Remote Sensor System (TRSS) System of Systems (SoS). The IDIQ contract is dollar-based, as opposed to quantity-based, with a ceiling of $52,781,000. TRSS SoS is designed to provide remote activity monitoring close to or in a specified locale, and in all weather conditions (Figure 5). The first delivery order on contract is anticipated at $10,854,132, and work will commence in Cincinnati, Ohio. Meanwhile, contract completion is scheduled for July 2015.

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Figure 5: The Tactical Remote Sensor System (TRSS) System of Systems (SoS) will soon be getting upgrades, repairs, equipment systems, and program management per a recent contract. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandra Sandoval
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