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The Pentagon’s IED-Hunters Have a New Target: Drones

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The Pentagon’s IED-Hunters Have a New Target: Drones

(Source: Caroline Houck, DefenceOne | Photo: DefenceOne)
A short list of U.S. military outfits that develop tools and techniques to fight enemy drones includes DARPA, the services’ research labs — and now, the group created more than a decade ago to solve the IED problem.

Founded in the early 2000s as a taskforce with a budget of just $100 million, the agency now called the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Office, JIDO, has evolved over the years. First, it mushroomed into the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, JIEDDO, with a multibillion-dollar budget and a three-part mission that had it inventing counter-IED technology while simultaneously collecting intelligence and training troops on what to look out for. Then it shrank in a series of reorganizations that eventually housed it under the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

It’s a logical next step to tackle commercial drones

its director Lt. Gen. Michael Shields says.

We’re incredibly focused on counter-IED — the counter-[drone] work is really just a natural extension as an airborne IED,

he told reporters last week at a demonstration day the office hosted.

As small quadcopters and fixed-wing drones became cheaper and more accessible over the last few years, the Islamic State put them to use on the battlefield — for everything from conducting surveillance to dropping small bombs.

Historically, ISIS has been very adept at how they adapt and integrate improvised explosive devices. In the early days, [they had] an almost industrial capacity to do so

Shields said.

The natural extension of that was their use of the drones. I don’t see that going away.

Gen. Raymond Thomas, who leads U.S. Special Operations Command, called ISIS’s armed drones the past year’s “most daunting problem.”

About five or six months ago, there was a day when the Iraqi effort nearly came to a screeching halt, where literally over 24 hours there were 70 drones in the air,

Thomas told a special operations forces conference in May.

At one point, there were 12 ‘killer bees,’ if you will, right overhead and underneath our air superiority.

Though nowhere near as life-threatening to U.S. troops as the IED has been in the 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the problem jump-started JIDO’s rapid response arm. The office rushed two devices into theater in fewer than 60 days, and has been part of the U.S. military’s all-hands-on-deck response since. ISIS isn’t using drones to the same great effect they were at the start of the year, the deputy commander of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and Syria told Defense One last month. But JIDO is still building new tech to fight the armed drones, because officials say that just like with the other forms of IEDs — vehicle-borne, roadside bombs, booby-trapped buildings, and the like — ISIS will continue to innovate its tactics as the Pentagon pushes out new solutions.

We’re never finding the solution,

said Lisa Swan, JIDO’s deputy director for mission support.

We adapt, they adapt, we adapt, they adapt…sometimes we put things out there and it isn’t a long-term need because they have adapted and so we must move on to the next thing.

It’s the IED problem all over again, just airborne. And groups like ISIS are further advantaged by the drone industry itself, which JIDO scientist Hatch Tynes said is constantly innovating to make drones not just more capable, but also “idiot-proof” — easier to pilot and more resilient. There’s no equivalent commercial market driving innovation on the counter side.

Fighting drones — with drones
One approach JIDO is exploring, in conjunction with the Air Force Research Lab, is getting spoofing equipment aloft on a fixed-wing unmanned vehicle. The idea, scientists from both organizations said at JIDO’s field day, is to marry the ground-based Negation of Improvised Non-State Joint Aerial threats (NINJA) that electronically takes command of the drone, with a surveillance drone called the Long-Endurance Aerial Platform (LEAP). Both technologies already exist and are deployed separately in Central Command.

Basically it’s going to sense drone systems from the air, and then take command and control of the drone itself,

said one JIDO scientist.

In short, they want to fight drones with drones. There’s still work to be done — miniaturizing the NINJA system to give the mated system a longer endurance, figuring out how best to use it with troops on the ground and the like. JIDO said it plans to demo the integrated platform next spring.

But it’s far from the only approach to realizing a battle of the drones. Another experimental platform JIDO had on display was a hard-kill option attached to the military’s own commercial drone — a DJI M600. Unlike the “soft kill” NINJA/LEAP combination which electronically disables the drone but leaves its mechanics untouched, this technology would give troops the option to physically stop a drone by ensnaring it in a net.

While previous devices have launched nets at enemy UAVs with mixed results, a copter drone displayed by JIDO and the Air Force Research Lab last week can sweep the air with an attached net, a promising approach both against single UAVs and the expected swarms of the future.

But before U.S. troops and partner forces can take down an enemy drone, they first have to be aware of it. Commercial drones are hard to hear, harder to spot, and not metallic enough to be picked up by radar. So JIDO’s looking at various sensors and detection systems, including things that pick out enemy UAVs by their acoustic signatures. But “the trick is always the noise,” Tynes said.

“It’s the same problem we have with IEDs on the ground. There’s so much clutter you end up getting a lot of false positives, false alarms. And when everything’s making noise, you turn it off.”

 The Pentagon’s IED-Hunters Have a New Target: Drones

JIDO director Lt. Gen. Michael Shields examines the hard kill option the office is developing with the Air Force Research Lab to take down enemy drones. © DefenceOne

An enduring threat
The U.S-led coalition may have ousted ISIS from its physical capitals in Raqqa and Mosul, but the threat it and other extremist organizations pose will continue. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford said yesterday he believes ISIS will attempt to establish a physical presence outside Syria and Iraq and, barring that, will continue to link up with local insurgencies — as the Pentagon believes it did in Niger, where four U.S. soldiers were recently killed in an ambush by an ISIS-affiliated group.

“We’re at an inflection point in the global campaign, not an end point,”

he said.

And without a defined caliphate, will ISIS probably rely more on traditional insurgent tactics, like low-effort, asymmetric drone attacks? “The answer is yes,” Shields said. And they likely won’t be the only ones doing so.

“What I think is happening is other violent extremist organizations are going to school and observing,”

Shields said.

“The issue and the challenge with drones in Iraq/Syria is not an Iraq [and] Syria problem. It’s a regional one. It’s a global problem”

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MyDefence Announced Successful Integration of Its C-UAS Sensors in Vehicle Platforms

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MyDefence Announced Successful Integration of Its C-UAS Sensors in Vehicle Platforms
Photo credit: MyDefence

CARY, North Carolina, the USA (BulgarianMilitary.com) – MyDefence Communication announced last week that the company had successfully integrated its Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) technology into the General Dynamics Land Systems Light Armoured Vehicle platform for the needs of military forces, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

The CEO of MyDefence North America, Luke Layman, commented, “We are proud to announce the successful integration of our Counter UAS sensors into the General Dynamics Land Systems Light Armoured Vehicle platform. This is the first fully integrated Counter UAS solution available for mobile platforms with support for third-party battle management systems.”

Read more: A Portable Counter UAS Jammer Has Been Launched by MyDefence

Advanced, networked radio-frequency (RF) sensors have been developed by MyDefence and the company has worked closely with General Dynamics Land Systems in order to integrate these drone sensors into a wheeled armoured vehicle platform so that to provide on-the-move detect and defeat capability of drones for military operators. Now, thanks to the integrated drone sensors, military operators will be able to effectively detect and defeat hostile drones used either for reconnaissance or as weapon delivery systems.

MyDefence first began integration tests together with the General Dynamics Land Systems platform last year. The platform has evolved since then and the Counter Unmanned Aerial System solution as of the moment can be fully integrated into any vehicle platform and provide the flexibility and scalability needed for military operators.

Read more: General Dynamics Land Systems Will Upgrade 116 Stryker Vehicles of the US Army

The platform can detect drones through RF technology and defeat threats through smart jamming. The solution can be integrated with third-party battle-management systems (BMS), and through a standard tactical link, the mobile platform can communicate and provide feedback to any remote command and control (C2) system and thus ensure greater situational awareness and enhanced battlefield effectiveness.

About MyDefence

MyDefence is established by military officers. The company is specialized in developing sensors and effectors for military customers to counter the threat of hostile drones. It offers innovative and versatile Counter UAS solutions for any type of mission.

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Source: MyDefence

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JOBSS Delivered to Van Halteren Defence under the I-HCT Programme

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JOBSS Delivered to Van Halteren Defence under the I-HCT Programme
Photo credit: Defense Techno-Consult

BUNSCHOTEN, the Netherlands (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The Israeli Bagira Systems has delivered its Joint-fires BattleSpace Simulator (JOBSS) to Van Halteren Defence. This move is part of the Integrated-Howitzer Crew Trainer (I-HCT) programme of Van Halteren Defence for the Royal Thai Army, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

Under the mentioned above programme, JOBSS was integrated with a battery of 105mm HCT devices and with the operational C2 system of the Royal Thai Army.

Read more: The Royal Thai Navy Midget Submarine Programme Will Be Supported by BMT

The I-HCT of the Royal Thai Army features a virtual database of training areas and a battery of LG1, M101 and L119 105mm towed howitzers, which ensure training for practising the full fire support cycle: from the forward observer through the fire direction centre to the gun detachment.

Van Halteren has been engaged with the provision of HCTs since 1990 and the Royal Netherlands Army was its first customer. As of the moment, the company may make a boast of twelve international customers.

Read more: The Royal Thai Air Force Will Add Four New Airbus H225M Helicopters to Its Fleet

Bagira explained that the joint-fires virtual training system, JOBSS, was designed by the company for the Israeli Defence Forces where it started its service two years ago, in 2016. Two export customers have also purchased the system.

Van Haltern Defence’s HCTs perform trainings with high-fidelity simulated guns and ammunition. The system has an instructor operating station, training ammunition, which is developed so that to look exactly like live ammunition, and a fully simulated recoiling howitzer for simulation of the effects of firing.

Read more: Indra Will Equip the Royal Thai Air Force with Its Lanza 3D Radar

The I-HCT ensures an integrated live and virtual training environment through Digital Dust, which is the concept of Bagira for LVC training, which includes all the simulators into one environment, which is based on the B-One simulation engine of the company.

As reported by Bagira, “all trainee’s activities and procedures are recorded and registered in order to enable a complete and extensive after action review and to ensure mission readiness.”

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Source: Shephard Media

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Leonardo’s Technology Will Safeguard Liguria’s Regional Security

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Leonardo’s Technology Will Safeguard Liguria’s Regional Security
Photo credit: Leonardo

GENOA, Italy (BulgarianMilitary.com) – This week on Monday, 12th November 2018, Leonardo announced that the company and the Ligurian local authorities signed on the same day, in Genoa, a Memorandum of Understanding to develop projects and technological demonstrations for the preservation, safeguarding and security of the territorial ecosystem of the Italian region of Liguria, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

Read more: Leonardo Announced a €280 Million AW169M Contract with Guardia di Finanza

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the President of the Liguria Region, Giovanni Toti; Genoa’s Mayor, Marco Bucci; President of the Authority of the Port System of the Western Ligurian sea, Paolo Emilio Signorini and by Leonardo’s Chief Executive Officer, Alessandro Profumo.

Profumo commented, “With today’s agreement we renew our commitment to Liguria and Genoa. Leonardo will offer its expertise to the local authorities and start the first public-private partnership, to enhance security in the Liguria region that has always been a focal for Leonardo’s activities.”

Read more: Leonardo Unveiled Its BriteCloud 55-T for Military Transport Aircraft Protection 

The implementation of the signed Memorandum will be managed by a Steering Committee. It will set the strategic direction of the development of the programme so that to extend it to other private and institutional partners and, eventually, to support the promotion and development of its activities.

The commitment of Leonardo under the Memorandum is to make available to the authorities its experience to implement particular technological solutions in several fields, including territorial monitoring, security, mobility, traceability of goods, services to citizens, energy efficiency, including cyber security. The company will also be able to collaborate with other public and private entities, including outside the region, for promoting Liguria’s territory as an example of a centre of innovation and excellence.

Read more: Leonardo Offers and an Option for Newly Built Eurofighter to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence

The Memorandum, which has been signed for 3 years and supports the United Nations 2030 Sustainability Agenda and specifically the main community directives on integrated security and risks prevention, will determine areas where to be developed territorial resilience projects and environmental monitoring. These projects will support the security of the region’s citizens by applying innovative technology and solutions.

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Source: Leonardo

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Pentagon to Reduce the Forces in Africa due to Changes in the Priorities

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Pentagon to Reduce the Forces in Africa due to Changes in the Priorities
Photo credit: Capt. Jonathan Daniell, U.S. Army Africa, Gako, Rwanda, 2nd Nov. 2018/Planners from U.S. Army Africa and the Botswana Defence Force achieved their first major milestone when they met last week in Gaborone, Botswana, to plan for the African Land Forces Summit in June 2019.

WASHINGTON, the USA (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The Pentagon will reduce the United States troops deployed in Africa due to changes in the priorities as reported by officials on 15th November 2018, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

More forces will be directed toward countering possible threats coming from Russia and China.

Read more: General: The USA Has No Defences Against the Weapons of Russia and China

As of the moment, the number of the U.S. military personnel situated in dozens of African nations reaches 7,200 with notable footprints in some places like Libya, Somalia and Nigeria.

Pentagon spokeswoman CDR Candice Tresch announced that number would be decreased by about 10% during the coming several years.

It was not specified by Tresch which countries would see a draw down, however he mentioned that the Pentagon would try not to lose capability in Africa, as well as that the efforts, in some cases, would be redirected mainly to training and advising local forces.

Tresch commented, “We will preserve a majority of our US security cooperation, partnerships and programmes in Africa that strengthen our partner networks and enhance partner capability and ongoing programmes. We will realign our counter-terrorism resources and forces operating in Africa over the next several years in order to maintain a competitive posture worldwide.”

That decision comes as a result of the work of the Pentagon on implementing President Donald Trump’s National Defense Strategy (NDS).

Read more: The U.S. Army Is to Update Its Air-and-Missile Defence Strategy

“Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department, and require both increased and sustained investment, because of the magnitude of the threats they pose to U.S. security and prosperity today, and the potential for those threats to increase in the future. Concurrently, the Department will sustain its efforts to deter and counter rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran, defeat terrorist threats to the United States, and consolidate our gains in Iraq and Afghanistan while moving to a more resource-sustainable approach,” says the NDS.

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BulgarianMilitary.com
Source: Shephard Media, Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America

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