Tapping the potential of non-traditional Intelligence Surveillance
and Reconnaissance (ISR) Raytheon and L-3 Communications teamed
to exploit data
transfer applications of AESA radars. During flight tests
conducted by the team, AESA radars were used to communicate
high bandwidth SAR image map data at extremely high speed –
far exceeding the capabilities of current fighter communication
systems. Images were sent at a TV speed of 30 frames per second,
from the aircraft to a ground based processing center. When
image exploitation was completed, it was transmitted back to
the aircraft, with the analyst's annotations.
This capability demonstrates the potential uses of AESA radars
with tactical and surveillance aircraft as well as unmanned
systems. This new capability is poised to become a key element
in the Global Information Grid (GIG), adding potential secure
communication links that will increase the GIG's information
gathering and decision making utility for all users. As these
radars proliferate among operational units and the transmit-receive
infrastructure grows, these capabilities will support an increasing
array of applications such as combat identification and homeland
security, areas where communications interoperability and data
fusion are essential.
Going Net Centric now!
The thrust for net-centricity and overarching control via datalinks
has also some negative effects, as it overloads the limited
electromagnetic spectrum resources, driving users into ever
higher frequencies. One of the ultimate solutions is the use
narrow-band laser communications, carrying broadband point-to-point
communications between airborne or surface bound terminals and
specially equipped satellite. (Laser communications between
satellites is already in development). The advantages of laser
communications are numerous – they are discrete, resistant
to countermeasures, extremely difficult to intercept and are
immune to conventional eavesdropping techniques. Since these
links do not require frequency coordination, they can establish
connection rapidly and can sustain high transfer rates (and
operating at high data-rate (100 MB/sec - 1 GB/sec).
Live communications via the Laser Optical Link (LOLA) was
demonstrated during the Paris Air Show by the French Ministry
of Defense' armament development and procurement agency (DGA).
The exhibit was linked, via satellite, to an airborne Mystère
20 aircraft, transmitting live imagery captured on board. The
display transferred live video from the cabin sending clear
views of the countryside below. LOLA rapidly established links,
within less than one second, and consistently transferred data
at rates of 50 Mb/sec.
Advanced Integrated Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition
and Reconnaissance (I-ISTAR) technologies, developed by Thales,
highlighted an accelerated processing cycle of the Observation,
Orientation, Decision and Action (OODA). Thales is developing
the Aeros Recon NG recce pod as an airborne recce EO system
for the French Rafale. The pod has already been qualified for
the Mirage 2000 and will enter service with Rafale F3 by 2009
for the French Air Force and Navy. One of the new technologies
demonstrated by Thales this year, is the "Imagery on Demand"
(IOD) technology, enabling the dissemination of real-time optimized
optical or SAR images over low-bandwidth battlefield communications.
Such systems enable analysts and end users to share images processed
by the Thales MINDS systems deployed in fixed or forward locations.
Non traditional ISR is becoming a popular element in the planning
and support of joint operations. At the Paris Airshow DRS described
now Advanced Fighter Aircraft Command and control system (AFACE)
pod system could establish real-time, worldwide air-to-air and
air-to-ground modular communications and intelligence sharing
network. Current FACE pods, carried on standard missile launch
rails by A-10s, F-15s, F-18 and CF-18s have accumulated over
fifty thousand flight hours, offering faster response to time
critical targets and significantly improving low altitude communications,
since they reduce the aircraft dependency on UHF/VHF repeater
towers. The advanced version will be available in pod, or internally
mounted configurations, providing real-time flight tracking
(via GPS and INS). It will include a flight data recorder providing
mission planning and debriefing functions. AFACE will introduce
more versatile communications including secure voice and data,
video, support conference calls and pilot dial-out. It will
also include broadband Iridium link and WiFi connection. The
system is offered with two add-on modules, supporting non traditional
ISR and counter IED missions. The geo-referenced targeting mission
module will establish geo-referenced imagery database on board
enabling users to download relevant images according to their
preference. The system will also support 'cursor on target'
functionality, extracting accurate target coordinates for geo-targeted
weapons. For the Anti-IED (electronic attack) mission, the system
could be used to augment other EW platforms covering high priority
missions, rendering select ground threats ineffective.
The Russian Communications specialist Polyot unveiled some
of the new capabilities, driving the evolving command and control
infrastructure supporting modern Russian fighters, used domestically
and for export. Polyot claims that aircraft supported by their
encrypted, jam resistant datalinks can achieve up to 25% increase
in combat effectiveness, by establishing autonomous fighter
groups and reducing pilot workload. The systems support high
speed data networks and use universal interfaces for integration,
linking the aircraft avionics and ground based communications.
A more autonomous 'pilot associate' style system was introduced
by Elbit Systems. Called "On-Board Decision Support and
Mission Planning System – ODSS, this system is designed
to arrange, process and display to the pilot, the most relevant
mission critical information necessary for optimal flight path
decision. Based on operational expertise, experience and input
from combat pilots, Elbit Systems established the ODSS knowledge-base,
employing artificial intelligence system to analyze current
mission data, tactical and geographical information, generating
a recommended flight path designed for each mission profile.
For example, ODSS can recommend an optimal flight path which
leaves optimal space for evasive maneuvers in a segment of the
flight path exposed to enemy threats. The system is used on
the ground, supporting an automated mission preparation. While
airborne, ODSS contributes to faster, more accurate and efficient
decisions, based on the rapid and continuous analysis of multiple
Precision Attack Getting Cheaper?
Few new weapons were on display here. Much of the work is being
focused on reducing the 'cost of precision kill' by introducing
affordable, high precision guidance systems, and lighter weapons
both contributing to more precise effect with less collateral
damage. To enhance future, low-cost guided weapons, low-cost
strap-down dual-mode seekers employing Semi-Active
Laser (SAL) and Infra-Red (IR) guidance systems are developed
by MBDA. These components will be used with powerful, low-cost
computing and actuating systems enhancing future 'smart' munitions,
including 68/70mm guided
rockets, 155mm guided artillery projectiles and 120mm mortar
Elbit Systems also unveiled a laser guidance kit developed
for aerial weapons. In the past, the company developed laser
guidance kits for the Wizzard guided bomb; these have now been
miniaturized into guidance kits, fitting bombs as well as much
smaller 68/70mm rockets, converting these into ‘metric’
precision-guided weapons. The kit, designated "STAR"
improves the accuracy and overall effectiveness of attack missions
as well as reducing collateral damage. The STAR guidance kit
was recently selected by Boeing, to upgrade the JDAM
GPS guided bombs.
Sagem displayed the growing family of AASM
guided bombs, including 2,000, 1,000 and 500 pound weapons.
Another version, a 250 pound guided bomb is currently in development.
AASM is scheduled to enter service with the French Air Force
Rafale squadrons this year (2007). Boeing recently received
$28 million contract to fit laser guidance kits to 600 existing
500 pounds JDAMS (400 for the air force, 200 for the Navy) by
2009 to meet a quick reaction USAF program.
Fighting over GPS Control
GPS has become so
common and natural, that we can’t think how we could live
without it. But GPS is also highly sensitive to interference
and deception, especially at war, when GPS jammers are employed.
Such systems were shown by the Russian company Aviaconversiya,
the same company that, in 2003, sold GPS jammers to Saddam Hussein.
Aviaconversiya presented a range of portable / airborne and
remotely controlled jammers called "Umbrella" that
can cover a wire area disabling GPS services over the entire
country. The employment of such systems will deny both friendly
and enemy use of GPS guided systems, such as simple UAVs and
GPS guided weapons (such as JDAM). "We don’t know
how many systems were sold to Iraq, since they were procured
by middlemen" Aviaconversiya executive told Defense Update,
‘but there were plenty of them. Until then, our biggest
customer was the US government, buying our systems for evaluation
and testing". He added.
The Pentagon is certainly concerned about the vulnerability
of its GPS systems. Several programs were launched to eliminate
this capability gap. In particular, extensive work is in progress
to improve the capability of the GPS guided
Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) to overcome
GPS jamming. In June 2007 Boeing announced the successful
completion of developmental flight testing of its integrated
GPS Anti-Jam system (IGAS) for JDAM. According to Boeing’s
program manager for IGAS, Dennis Kast, "IGAS uses digital
signal processing to significantly reduce the impact of GPS
jamming, allowing the warfighter to use the weapon with confidence
in a variety of battlefield environments". Boeing will
complete the system’s development in 2007 and plans initial
deliveries in 2008.
Another GPS counter-countermeasure, designed to protect GPS
navigation systems against enemy jamming and deception was unveiled
by Elisra, a member of the Elbit Systems group. The system went
through successful flight trials exhibiting smooth and stable
functioning. Throughout the test the system successfully annulled
powerful jammers with its advanced spatial null steering technology,
fully meeting the tests’ complex jamming challenge. The
system, designated iSN/V1 ensures on-board GPS receivers are
generating reliable, uninterrupted GPS solutions. The system
covers extensive geographical areas, providing immunity for
multiple satellite channels and handling multiple jammers operating
on concurrent frequencies. It is designed for operation on board
any system utilizing GPS, including aircraft, helicopters and
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