Sentinel client Radio Hill Technologies http://www.radiohilltech.com completed their participation in the Army REF’s (Rapid Equipping Force) Desert Chance 3 technical evaluation this week at Yuma Proving Ground in New Mexico. Desert Chance 3 was designed to test and evaluate emerging counter-drone technologies. Radio Hill demonstrated their hand-held jammer Dronebuster in multiple scenarios over the month-long evaluation. Weighing less than 4 lbs., the Dronebuster proved to be the most popular handheld jamming device tested by representatives from all DOD branches, US Federal Agencies, and numerous foreign militaries. Radio Hill CEO Jake Sullivan commented “the Dronebuster is clearly the easiest to deploy and use for short-range counter-drone applications. We hope to see it in use protecting DOD personnel very soon.”
Sentinel client Radio Hill Technologies of Portland, OR was named a finalist this week in the MITRE C-UAS Challenge. MITRE has named eight finalists who will compete in the C-UAS (counter-unmanned aircraft system) challenge competition to be held in August in Quantico, VA. There is up to $100,000 worth of prize money to be won for the best C-UAS solution.
MITRE established the challenge this year in order to identify promising counter drone technologies that might be of use to the U.S. Government. These technologies include radar technologies, imaging technologies and jamming, with many entries offering some combination of the three. MITRE received 42 submissions using these technologies and their potential use in an urban environment.
Radio Hill Technologies’ submission included the Dronebuster jamming device. This hand-held jammer weighs under 4 pounds and jams on all commercial ISM frequencies along with GPS and GLONASS navigation frequencies. It is a cost effective tool for security teams and first responders to use during combat operations or domestic gatherings. Since the domestic RF spectrum is regulated by the FCC, jamming can only be carried out by Federal agencies within the U.S.
Sentinel client Octex Holdings LLC, http://www.octex360.com/ made their defense market debut this month when attending the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space expo at National Harbor, MD. Octex is a Sarasota, FL based small business that specializes in injection molding. While Octex is better known as the manufacturer of the iconic Tervis tumbler and several medical implantables, they decided to enter the defense market this year in response to the strong commitment from defense leadership to emphasize metal-to-plastic conversion in defense systems. Octex has the ability to remove significant weight and cost from existing systems while maintaining full environmental qualification. PEEKs (Poly-ethyl-ethyl-ketones) and their variants offer particular promise as metal substitutes in many applications. Octex spent significant time while at Sea-Air-Space in meetings with the Naval Research Lab in the hope of embarking down this path. Octex was recently awarded a Phase 1 SBIR contract from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Command to carry out similar research.
Sentinel client flexFORCE of Portland, Oregon http://www.flexforce.us/made its trade show debut last week in National Harbor Maryland when it debuted its recently developed ASP stabilized weapon mount. The ASP is a culmination of years of work and an Army PEO Aviation Phase II SBIR to create a crew-served stabilized weapon mount for H-60 Blackhawk helicopters. Last year Flexforce designed a marinized version for naval use that has been under test and qualification via a CRADA with NAVSEA Crane. Last week, the ASP was publicly displayed for the first time aboard the STILETTO test craft that was pierside for the Sea-Air-Space expo. The ASP will undergo further live-fire testing aboard the STILETTO during the summer of 2016. To date, live-fire testing has proven the ASP to be as accurate as any of the remote weapon stations in use by U.S. forces. Further on-water testing should validate this lighter-weight and lower-cost mount will provide at least a ten-fold increase in accuracy for M2 and M240 crew-served weapon mounts.
Sentinel was recently named the Florida representative for California-based Willard Marine, a manufacturer of world-class Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats. (RHIBs) Willard recently launched a new 7-meter design called Mission Pro 730, to focus specifically on the marine police and responder market. This RHIB is designed for speed and endurance with a cost-effective fiberglass hull under a foam or inflatable collar. More specifications can be found at Mission Pro 730
Willard Marine has been in business in California for well over 50 years and has spent much of their last 15 years making RHIB’s for the Navy and Coast Guard. This pedigree will serve Willard well in the first responder market. There simply isn’t a better boat for these law enforcement & rescue missions.
If any Florida-based agencies have questions about Willard designs, don’t hesitate to contact me. For all others, take a look at Willard Marine homepage .
Sentinel client Ascendant Engineering Solutions out of Austin, Texas is launching it’s latest stabilized gimbal design as part of a state-of-the-art Small UAS cinematography system. Called DaVinci, this system combines an AES-designed lightweight stabilized gimbal, with a RED Epic Dragon 19MP camera and a hexacopter UAV to provide the highest imaging performance available in an FAA-compliant, 55 lb. system.
Recall the FAA recently published their Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) as an incremental approach to integration of commercial-use unmanned systems to the US national airspace. In so doing, the initial category of UAS being allowed to fly includes systems that don’t exceed 55 lbs. or fly above 500 ft. There are several other critical parameters like daylight only and line-of-sight operation that must be adhered to. There will be a multi-month public comment period prior to final adoption of this rule.
In the meantime, the FAA is granting exemptions under Section 333 of the proposed rule that allow operations under the proposed rule. At the time of this writing, just over 50 companies have been granted this waiver and approximately 600 more companies have applications pending. Clearly the demand is there and the FAA has its work cut out to get the waiver approval process streamlined.
The DaVinci was designed specifically to operated in this Small UAS category in order to provide cinematographers an option to manned helicopter or wire guided cinematography. By embracing RED’s latest Epic camera model with a number of zoom lens options, this system has the ability to provide very near the same capability as manned aircraft cinematography and allow for new and unique capabilities provided by remote controlled aircraft.
The DaVinci will be on display at the upcoming National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) www.nabshow.com convention in Las Vegas, GA in April 2015 and will be on display again at the Association of Unmanned Systems International (AUVSI) http://www.auvsishow.org/auvsi2015/public/enter.aspx in Atlanta, GA in May 2015.
Sentinel is working with a defense client to sell off quite a bit of surplus force protection equipment from the now-cancelled USMC CERBERUS program. This equipment was ordered approximately three years ago as long-lead items for a purchase that was eventually cancelled by the Government. The equipment is brand-new and never used, but has been in storage for over two years. Original OEM warranties have expired obviously but all sensors, generators, etc. work like new. Items available include:
- Nine force protection trailers
- 32 sensor bundles that include
- RVision pan-n-tilt positioner
- Qwonn T200 day camera w/Fujinon zoom lens
- Mounting arms
- 15 3kw generators
- 20 Wil-burt 6M masts
- 40 IZLID model 200P laser pointers
- 20 Seismic detectors
This equipment is in storage in the Washington DC area and can be viewed by appointment. Contact Sentinel if you have any interest in any of this material or would like additional information.
DARPA is expecting to complete risk reduction studies in September, and select one of two competing designs for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems (MALE UAS), that will be capable to operate from small and medium naval vessels. As part of Phase 2 of the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) research and development program the agency is funding risk reduction studies performed by Northrop Grumman Corp. and Aerovironment Inc., based on preliminary designs proposed by the two companies in the earlier Phase I. The program is jointly managed between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR).
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“To offer the equivalent of land-based UAS capabilities from small-deck ships, our Phase 2 performers are each designing a new unmanned air system intended to enable two previously unavailable capabilities: one, the ability for a UAS to take off and land from very confined spaces in elevated sea states and two, the ability for such a UAS to transition to efficient long-duration cruise missions,” said Dan Patt, DARPA TERN program manager. “Tern’s goal is to develop breakthrough technologies that the Navy could realistically integrate into the future fleet and make it much easier, quicker and less expensive for the Defense Department to deploy persistent ISR and strike capabilities almost anywhere in the world.”
The Tern program envisions using smaller ships of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) or DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems (UAS), to provide long-range ISR and other capabilities from the decks of forward-deployed small ships. By 2017 DARPA aims to conduct full-scale, at-sea demonstration of the selected TERN prototype UAS from a vessel with the same deck size as an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.
The US government has approved the sale of 17 Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopters to the Netherlands for USD1.05 billion.
The proposed sale, which was approved by the State Department on 19 March and announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 23 March, covers customer-unique modified helicopters, as well as ancillary equipment, support, and training.
Specifically, the notification lists the equipment as 46 T55-GA-714A Aircraft Turbine Engines with Hydro-Mechanical Assembly (34 installed and 12 spares), 41 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (EGIs), 54 AN/ARC-231 Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency Radios, 21 AN/ARC-220 High Frequency Radios, 21 AN/APX-123A Identification Friend or Foe Transponders, and 41 AN/ARC-201D Very High Frequency Radios.
According to the DSCA, the proposed sale of CH-47F aircraft will improve the Netherlands’ capability to meet current and future requirements for troop movement, medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drop, search and rescue, disaster relief, firefighting, and heavy construction support.
Striking international deals is a matter of survival for the F-35 joint strike fighter program. The aircraft was conceived with international partners in mind, to help lower the cost for the United States and also to promote closer alliances with buying countries.
The officer who oversees the $400 billion F-35 program says he is excited about growing international participation, but does not believe it is his job to promote the aircraft or serve as a program cheerleader.
“I am not a salesman for the F-35,” says Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer.
“I am not an advocate for the F-35 program per se. That is not my job,” he says during a meeting with reporters March 24.
Military and civilian officials who run big-ticket Pentagon programs might be expected to serve as champions for their projects, but Bogdan does not believe that is an appropriate role for a manager.
“My job is to run the best program that I can,” he says. “That means I take the requirements from the war fighters, the money they give me and I run the most effective and efficient program that I can.”
In the cutthroat international arms landscape, aggressive marketing is the norm. The F-35 currently is competing for orders in Canada and Denmark, both of which are partners in the program but have yet to commit to buying airplanes. Again, Bogdan insists that it is not his responsibility to convince these countries’ leaders to buy the F-35. “Partners’ governments need to be advocates for this, too,” he says. “For me to travel to Denmark any time in the near future to try to bolster the F-35’s image while they’re making this decision, that’s flat out wrong , I would never do it, not going to do it, can’t do it, it’s not my job. … We provided Denmark the best information we could. If the F-35 is the right airplane for Denmark, I’m glad for them, and we’ll do everything we can to meet that.”
Bogdan believes the users of the aircraft and the manufacturers are best suited to market the program. “The war fighter has to be an advocate because he or she needs that capability. They have to want it and they have to say that they want it, not begrudgingly.” Aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. and engine provider Pratt & Whitney also should be vigorous marketers. “That’s their business,” he says. “It never bothers me when I hear that Lockheed Martin, Pratt and the other companies are out there marketing. That’s what they’re in business to do. I just want to make sure they’re marketing with facts, and not overpromising so we can be fair to everybody.”
At the Pentagon, part of the annual budget battles is over how many F-35s the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Navy will buy. Bogdan prefers to not weigh in on that issue. Although he has a personal opinion on whether the military services are buying enough airplanes, “It’s not my job as program director” to shape that debate, he says.
Even in the unlikely event that the Pentagon decided to terminate its biggest weapon acquisition, it would be the duty of the program manager to follow orders and let others challenge that decision, he says. “If the department called me today and told me, ‘Turn it off General Bogdan,’ my job would be to turn it off as best as I could. It would not be my job to stand up and say ‘Don’t do that, that’s not a good idea.'”
In his role as F-35 manager, he should not be the one to “pump up or pump down the program,” he says. “My job is to try to provide the best information I have so you can form your own opinions. … I work for the war fighters and I work for the taxpayers.”