Tag Archives: BAE Systems

Signals Intelligence

BAE Systems has been awarded funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to integrate Machine-Learning (ML) technology into platforms that decipher radio frequency signals. Its Controllable Hardware Integration for Machine-learning Enabled Real-time Adaptivity (CHIMERA) solution provides a reconfigurable hardware platform for ML algorithm developers to make sense of Radio Frequency (RF) signals in increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum environments.

The solution provides a reconfigurable hardware platform for developers to make sense of radio frequency signals in increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum environments

The up to $4.7 million contract, dependent on successful completion of milestones, includes hardware delivery along with integration and demonstration support. CHIMERA’s hardware platform will enable algorithm developers to decipher the ever-growing number of RF signals, providing commercial or military users with greater automated situational awareness of their operating environment. This contract is adjacent to the previously announced award for the development of data-driven ML algorithms under the same DARPA program (Radio Frequency Machine Learning Systems, or RFMLS).

RFMLS requires a robust, adaptable hardware solution with a multitude of control surfaces to enable improved discrimination of signals in the evolving dense spectrum environments of the future.

«CHIMERA brings the flexibility of a software solution to hardware», said Dave Logan, vice president and general manager of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems at BAE Systems. «Machine-learning is on the verge of revolutionizing signals intelligence technology, just as it has in other industries».

In an evolving threat environment, CHIMERA will enable ML software development to adapt the hardware’s RF configuration in real time to optimize mission performance. This capability has never before been available in a hardware solution. The system provides multiple control surfaces for the user, enabling on-the-fly performance trade-offs that can maximize its sensitivity, selectivity, and scalability depending on mission need. The system’s open architecture interfaces allow for third party algorithm development, making the system future-proof and easily upgradable upon deployment.

Other RF functions, including communications, radar, and electronic warfare, also can benefit from this agile hardware platform, which has a reconfigurable array, front-end, full transceiver and digital pre-processing stage. Work on these phases of the program will take place at BAE Systems’ sites in Hudson and Merrimack, New Hampshire, and Dallas, Texas.

Mobile Protected
Firepower

Infantry Soldiers are closer to getting their hands on a «light tank» that will boost the firepower of their formations without slowing them down.

The 82nd Airborne Division will test two competing Mobile Protected Firepower vehicles, otherwise known as light tanks, beginning next year; illustrated here is the candidate design from BAE Systems (BAE photo)

The Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicle, part of the Next-Generation Combat Vehicles suite, is currently in competition after two vendors were chosen in December to each build 12 prototypes for under $376 million.

Beginning in March, those prototypes will be put through the wringer in a series of lethality, survivability and mobility tests. A light infantry unit at 82nd Airborne Division will also conduct an assessment later next year to gain Soldier input.

«It will be the first time anybody really puts their hands on it», said David Dopp, the vehicle’s project manager at Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS). «That’s a real key test».

The Army expects to receive about 500 MPFs, which it will start fielding in fiscal 2025. Each infantry brigade combat team will get their own 14-vehicle company for armor support.

One vendor will be chosen to begin producing the vehicles in fiscal 2022.

The «light tanks» would help infantry Soldiers blast through obstacles, take out machine-gun nests and defend against other armored vehicles.

«Infantry would go out on foot or in a Humvee, but then if they ran into some fortification, a bunker or other vehicles, everything kind of stopped», Dopp said Wednesday at the International Armored Vehicles USA conference. «With MPF, we can break through that».

The «light tank» will be a tracked vehicle with likely a 105-mm cannon and 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun for firepower, he said.

At least two of them would need to fit on a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft, and each vehicle would weigh less than 40 tons, much lighter than an M1 Abrams tank that can weigh 60 tons or more.

«It has better mobility for the infantry than an Abrams tank», Dopp said. «It goes where the infantry goes».

The MPF could be a game-changer for infantry units and fill a lethality gap they have had since 1996, when the M551 Sheridan light tank was officially retired without a replacement.

«We haven’t put a ‘tank’ in a light infantry unit for a long time», said Major General Brian Cummings, head of PEO GCS.

Today, an infantry brigade combat team has little to protect itself from an adversary with light armored vehicles, particularly Russia, which the Defense Department considers to be a near-peer adversary.

«In flows a company’s worth of MPFs to help give an armor capability against the threat», Cummings said, «so they’re not just there all by themselves with their javelin missiles».

While the MPF will have some of the latest available technology, autonomous features as well as additional sensors and other improvements could be implemented into it in the future.

«When we get it out there, we’ll start looking to put on those more advanced technologies», Dopp said. «It was all about getting it out there in a hurry».

Military Vehicle

Rheinmetall and BAE Systems have today launched a new, independent UK-based joint venture for military vehicle design, manufacture and support – known as Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL). Headquartered in Telford in the West Midlands, the joint venture will sustain around 450 jobs across the UK and is well positioned for future growth.

Rheinmetall has selected this Union Jack-emblazoned Boxer 8×8 armored fighting vehicle to symbolize its new military vehicle joint venture with BAE Systems, prosaically named «Rheinmetall and BAE Systems Land» (Rheinmetall photo)

RBSL intends to play a major role in manufacturing the Boxer 8×8 for the British Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme and other strategic combat vehicle programmes, while also providing support to the British Army’s in-service bridging and armoured vehicle fleets.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: «This announcement is a clear vote of confidence in the UK’s defence industry as a world-leader in designing, supplying and supporting military vehicles. This exciting venture clearly demonstrates how Defence sits at the heart of the prosperity agenda. Its benefits will be felt in the West Midlands and across the UK defence supply chain, creating jobs, boosting exports and guaranteeing our technical skills base into the future».

RBSL will draw on Rheinmetall’s broader military vehicle technologies combined with the additional capabilities and systems brought to the Joint Venture by BAE Systems’ Land UK business, such as Trojan, Terrier, Warrior, military bridging and the AS90 self-propelled artillery system. RBSL will have the potential to create hundreds of additional UK jobs, both in Telford and the wider supply chain.

Peter Hardisty, formerly of Rheinmetall UK, has been appointed as Managing Director of the new company. He said: «RBSL is a new business drawing on the significant strengths and expertise of both BAE Systems Land UK and Rheinmetall. Our employees in Telford, Bristol, and Washington (UK) have a valuable skill set and extensive experience in combat vehicle engineering. With new orders, we shall be able to sustain these capabilities and expand over the coming years, seeking new opportunities in the UK and overseas».

The new management team that will lead RBSL into the future also includes Carrie White as Finance Director and Phil Simon as Operations Director, both of whom join from BAE Systems.

Regulatory approval for the joint venture was granted on 13 June 2019.

Sensor technology

The successful LRASM sensor program demonstrates BAE Systems’ ability to quickly deliver advanced EW technology to warfighters.

Sensor technology guides next-generation missile to readiness
Sensor technology guides next-generation missile to readiness

BAE Systems worked closely with Lockheed Martin to deliver Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM) to the U.S. Air Force, achieving Early Operational Capability (EOC) for the B-1 B Lancer bomber ahead of schedule. The Air Force accepted delivery of production LRASM units following successful simulation, integration, and flight tests that demonstrated the missile’s mission readiness.

«We’re quickly delivering critical capabilities to warfighters to meet their urgent operational needs», said Bruce Konigsberg, Radio Frequency (RF) Sensors product area director at BAE Systems. «Our sensor systems provide U.S. warfighters with a strike capability that lets them engage protected, high-value maritime targets from safe distances. The missile provides a critical advantage to U.S. warfighters».

BAE Systems’ long-range sensor and targeting technology enables LRASM to detect and engage protected ships in all weather conditions, day or night, without relying on external intelligence and navigation data.

BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin are working closely together to further mature the LRASM technology. The companies recently signed a contract for the production of more than 50 additional sensors and are working to achieve EOC on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2019.

The advanced LRASM sensor technology builds on BAE Systems’ expertise in Electronic Warfare (EW), signal processing, and targeting technologies, and demonstrates the company’s ability to apply its world-class EW technology to small platforms. The successful LRASM sensor program demonstrates the company’s ability to quickly deliver advanced EW technology to warfighters.

As part of the company’s electronic warfare capacity expansion initiatives, it locates key programs where they will be optimally staffed to quickly transition from design to production, accelerate deliveries, and improve product affordability. The company’s work on the LRASM program is conducted at state-of-the-art facilities in Wayne, New Jersey and Nashua, New Hampshire, where it benefits from highly skilled EW engineering and manufacturing workforces.

HMS King George VI

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Continuous At Sea Deterrent – CASD50 – the longest unbroken operation ever delivered by the UK. It is known as Operation Relentless.

Continuous At Sea Deterrent
Continuous At Sea Deterrent

For five decades we have worked side-by-side with the Royal Navy to help keep our nation safe. At BAE Systems, we are proud of our heritage in manufacturing and engineering excellence, of our role in delivering the world’s most advanced and complex defence programmes and of the dedication, passion and innovation of our people.

Today, we remain as proud to work alongside the Royal Navy in defending our nation as we design, build and deliver the next class of deterrent submarines – Dreadnought. Over the next five weeks we will be shining the spotlight on our heritage, our people, our use of technology, our contribution to the UK and the future of our business.

The Defence Secretary has announced the fourth Dreadnought submarine as HMS King George VI ahead of a special service at Westminster Abbey today to recognise the Royal Navy’s Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD) over the past 50 years.

Since April 1969, a Royal Navy ballistic missile submarine has patrolled every single day, without interruption, providing the nation’s deterrent and helping keep the UK and our allies safe. This is the UK’s longest sustained military operation ever undertaken and is known as Operation Relentless.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: «Operation Relentless has seen generations of submariners from HMS Resolution to HMS Vengeance on constant watch, for every minute of every day for the last five decades. This is the longest military operation we have ever undertaken and continues right this minute deep under the sea. We pay tribute to those incredible crews, their supportive families, the Royal Navy and the thousands of industry experts who will continue to sustain this truly national endeavour for many years to come».

CASD50 provides a chance to not only remember the national endeavour of the past half century but to look to the next-generation of ballistic missile submarines, the Dreadnought class. This will consist of four boats helping to ensure the security of generations to come. The Dreadnought-class are expected to enter service in the early 2030s, helping to maintain Operation Relentless.

Flight control

For the first time in aviation history, an aircraft has been manoeuvred in flight using supersonically blown air, removing the need for complex movable flight control surfaces.

Successful demonstration of breakthrough blown-air flight technologies to revolutionise future aircraft design
Successful demonstration of breakthrough blown-air flight technologies to revolutionise future aircraft design

In a series of ground-breaking flight trials that took place in the skies above north-west Wales, the MAGMA Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) demonstrated two innovative flow control technologies which could revolutionise future aircraft design.

MAGMA, designed and developed by researchers at The University of Manchester in collaboration with engineers from BAE Systems, successfully trialled the two ‘flap-free’ technologies earlier this month at the Llanbedr Airfield.

The technologies have been designed to improve the control and performance of aircraft. By replacing moving surfaces with a simpler ‘blown air’ solution, the trials have paved the way for engineers to create better performing aircraft that are lighter, more reliable and cheaper to operate. The technologies could also improve an aircraft’s stealth as they reduce the number of gaps and edges that currently make aircraft more observable on radar.

Developing such technologies helps to ensure the UK has the right technologies and skills in place for the future and could be applied to the development of a Future Combat Air System. It is the latest technological breakthrough to come from a number of BAE Systems collaborations with academia and industry, that will help the UK to deliver more advanced capability, more quickly, and through shared investment.

Julia Sutcliffe, Chief Technologist, BAE Systems Air, said: «MAGMA is a great example of how collaborating with bright minds at British universities can deliver ground-breaking research and innovation. Our partnership with The University of Manchester has identified cutting-edge technology, in this case flap-free flight, and turned what began as a feasibility study into a proven capability in just a number of months. It demonstrates how Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) can be applied in the real-world and I hope the success of these trials inspires the next generation of much-needed engineers and scientists».

Bill Crowther, senior academic and leader of the MAGMA project at The University of Manchester, added: «We are excited to have been part of a long-standing effort to change the way in which aircraft can be controlled, going all the way back to the invention of wing warping by the Wright brothers. It’s been a great project for students to be part of, highlighting that real innovation in engineering is more about finding practical solutions to many hundreds of small technical challenges than having single moments of inspiration. The partnership with BAE Systems has allowed us the freedom as a university to focus on research adventure, with BAE Systems providing the pathway to industrial application. We made our first fluidic thrust vectoring nozzle from glued together bits of plastic and tested it on a hair drier fan nearly 20 years ago. Today BAE Systems is 3D printing our components out of titanium and we are flight testing them on the back of a jet engine in an aircraft designed and built by the project team. It doesn’t get much better than that».

The technologies demonstrated in the trials were:

  • Wing Circulation Control: Taking air from the aircraft engine and blowing it supersonically through narrow slots around a specially shaped wing tailing edge in order to control the aircraft.
  • Fluidic Thrust Vectoring: Controlling the aircraft by blowing air jets inside the nozzle to deflect the exhaust jet and generate a control force.

The trials form part of a long-term collaboration between BAE Systems, academia and the UK government to explore and develop flap-free flight technologies, and the data will be used to inform future research programmes. Other technologies to improve the aircraft performance are being explored in collaboration with NATO Science and Technology Organisation.

City-class frigate

This is the first of the Navy’s next-generation frigates, gradually taking shape in a huge shed on the Clyde.

HMS Glasgow begins to take shape
HMS Glasgow begins to take shape

This is HMS Glasgow, the lead ship in the new City-class, successor to the workhorse of today’s Fleet, the Duke-class Type 23 frigates.

Eight of these Type 26 ships will replace the «souped-up» submarine-hunting variant of the 23s (those equipped with Sonar 2187 – the towed array streamed from the quarterdeck) from the middle of next decade. (The five general purpose 23s, such as HMS Montrose, will be superseded by the Type 31e frigate which is still at the design stage.)

Work has been under way on the £1.2bn warship since mid-July 2017 at BAE Systems’ yard in Govan.

She’ll comprise more than 60 blocks in her finished form, with all but half a dozen of those giant segments in place by the end of next year.

The size of the vessel and the Govan shed means the ship will be pieced together in two huge sections: first the forward part of the frigate, followed by the stern.

Once the two parts are joined on the slipway outside the shed, the main mast and bridge section will be lifted into place and the mostly-complete frigate will be taken downstream for fitting out at BAE’s yard on the north bank of the Clyde at Scotstoun.

All of which is a couple of years off. For now, Vice Admiral Chris Gardner wanted to see how far Glasgow had progressed in his new role as Chief of Materiel (Ships) at the Defence Equipment and Support organisation – the arm of the MOD which oversees new projects and programmes and provides engineering and technical support to existing military kit.

«You can now stand inside a Type 26 as the zones come together and get a real sense of HMS Glasgow as she takes shape», he said.

Three ships have been ordered from BAE: Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast, while the remaining five vessels in the class have been named: Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and finally London.

The admiral also dropped in on «mega Medway» – No.2 of five new RN patrol ships – which is about to sail from Scotstoun on her second period of trials; all five vessels have been built in Glasgow, four are in the water and one, HMS Forth, is in Royal Navy hands.

Meteor and Spear

A team of BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and MBDA engineers enhancing the capability of the UK’s fleet of F-35 Lightning II aircraft by commencing work on the integration of next generation weapons.

Work starts integrating next generation Meteor and Spear onto UK F-35 Fleet
Work starts integrating next generation Meteor and Spear onto UK F-35 Fleet

BAE Systems has received an initial funding award from Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 Lightning II programme, to start integration efforts for MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and SPEAR precision surface attack missile.

Under this initial package of work BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin will also complete further integration work with MBDA on Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and with Raytheon on Paveway IV, initially integrated in support of delivering Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the UK.

Tom Fillingham, Senior Vice-President – U.S. Programmes of BAE Systems, said: «BAE Systems engineers played a crucial role in supporting the UK to achieve Initial Operating Capability for its F-35 fleet. Now, working alongside our partners including Lockheed Martin and MBDA, we are using our expertise to take that capability even further with advanced weapons systems such as Meteor and SPEAR. We are extremely proud of the critical contribution UK engineers are playing for both the UK and the global F-35 fleet through the development, production and sustainment of the aircraft».

Cliff Waldwyn, Head of Combat Air, Group Business Development of MBDA, said: «This is a significant milestone for the UK Combat Air’s capability. This initial package of work officially commences the integration of Meteor and SPEAR and will enhance the operational capability of the UK’s Lightning Force in the future; it is also a positive step for the wider F-35 enterprise as it adds additional capability choice for international customers. MBDA’s integration team have worked well with our BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin colleagues and we plan to build on this excellent foundation into the future on this follow-on modernisation work».

Last year, a pilot from 17 Squadron, the RAF’s F-35 Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California took to the skies for the first time with UK weapons, including ASRAAM and Paveway IV.

This followed work carried out during the F-35 Lightning II programme’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) initial testing phase to develop and certify weapons capabilities by an integrated test team. This team includes Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Raytheon and MBDA, working alongside the UK Air Warfare Centre to clear weapons for Operational Testing by Royal Air Force/Royal Navy (RAF/RN) pilots.

Active Protection

Lockheed Martin and industry partners supported U.S. Army integration of three countermeasures and a cueing sensor into the Modular Active Protection Systems (MAPS) framework for a six-week «rodeo» conducted at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

MAPS-enabled countermeasures integrated by Lockheed Martin defeat threats in U.S. Army field tests (city road viaduct streetscape of night scene in Shanghai)
MAPS-enabled countermeasures integrated by Lockheed Martin defeat threats in U.S. Army field tests (city road viaduct streetscape of night scene in Shanghai)

In a series of live-fire tests, the MAPS-enabled systems defeated 15 out of 15 anti-tank guided missiles by jamming their signals, causing them to fly off-target.

«The success of the Army’s testing shows the effectiveness of an active protection system that can rapidly refresh with new components to meet specific mission and platform requirements», said Michael Williamson, vice president of Sensors & Global Sustainment at Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin engineers led hardware and software integration of an Ariel Photonics countermeasure into the MAPS framework ahead of the tests. They also supported U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center efforts with BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman in integrating two other countermeasures and a cueing sensor.

Lockheed Martin was awarded the initial MAPS prototype controller contract in 2014 and continues to manufacture and deliver base kits to MAPS stakeholders. The base kit consists of a controller, user interface, power management distribution system, network switch and application software. It provides processing power to MAPS-enabled sensors and countermeasures and directs them in defeating incoming missiles and rockets.

The base kit supports the rapid integration of MAPS framework-compliant sensors and countermeasures to detect and defeat threats targeting MAPS-equipped vehicles. It is designed to protect current combat vehicles, as well as support future vehicle protection system capabilities.

Protected Firepower

The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a contract worth up to $376 million for the Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development (EMD) phase of the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program and rapid prototyping effort with low-rate initial production options.

BAE Systems awarded development contract for Mobile Protected Firepower
BAE Systems awarded development contract for Mobile Protected Firepower

BAE Systems’ solution combines new technology with proven capability to provide the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) with a highly agile, armor-protected platform that delivers overwhelming and precise firepower for use across the spectrum of terrains and operations.

«Our offering integrates innovative technology that reduces the burden on the crew into a compact design deployable in areas that are hard to reach», said Deepak Bazaz, director of combat vehicles programs at BAE Systems. «We’re confident our design meets the requirements and the unique capabilities the IBCT needs».

Under the contract, one of two awarded ahead of the Government’s down-select to a final contractor, BAE Systems will produce 12 prototype vehicles during the EMD phase.

The BAE Systems MPF is the result of more than 30 years of research and development for an optimized, rapidly deployable, light combat vehicle designed specifically to support light infantry. The vehicle leverages investments the Army made in the M8 Armored Gun System, including its low-profile design, and proven technologies like the M35 105-mm cannon, and an auto-loading ammunition system that allows the gun to fire at a rate of 12 rounds per minute. The innovative roll-out powerpack design allows for easy access to the engine and transmission without the aid of heavy equipment.

It also integrates scalable armor and innovative survivability subsystems to protect the vehicle and crew from threats on the future battlefield. The vehicle employs situational awareness systems adding to the highest levels of survivability and crew protection. The compact design allows for multiple vehicle deployment on a C-17 Globemaster III and exceeds the Army’s transport requirement and it is sustainable within the IBCT.

Work on the EMD vehicles will take place at BAE Systems’ facilities in Aiken, South Carolina; San Jose, California; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and York, Pennsylvania.