Industry Recon

Networked Combat Gear

The Army has awarded a $138.7 million contract to Boeing to outfit a brigade combat team with networked gear designed to improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities on the battlefield.

Under the contract, Boeing will develop and field Increment 1 of the Army’s Brigade Combat Team Modernization program, company officials said. The agreement also covers associated systems engineering and program management support.

Increment 1 calls for low-rate initial production of the networked capabilities to be fielded for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division. The Army plans to begin operational tests and evaluations of the capabilities in 2011.

The ISR capabilities scheduled to be fielded are the small unmanned ground vehicle system, Class I unmanned aerial vehicle, unattended ground sensors and network integration kits.

UAV Test Flight

Northrop Grumman has completed the first of a new series of test flights for its Bat unmanned aircraft systems.

The Bat product line, which was acquired from Swift Engineering in April 2009, is tailored to an irregular warfare environment, company officials said.

The Bat has a 12-foot wingspan, is powered by a Hirth engine and uses a five-blade propeller that has a low acoustic signature. It offers ground forces real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in addition to a communications relay, the officials said.   

During the tests, Bat was launched from an AAI Shadow UAS launcher and recovered using a net. The company tested the Bat with new payloads and systems that include a T2 Delta dual payload micro-gimbal from Cloud Cap Technology, a real-time moving target indicator from Sentient Vision Systems and a short wave infrared camera from Goodrich. Other tests involved ImSar’s Nano-Synthetic Aperture Radar-B fused with Cloud Cap’s T2 gimbal in a cursor-on-target mode.

Ultralight battery pack

Falcon’s new ultralight lithium-polymer battery pack is designed to lighten the load for military power conversion.

The company’s ED LIB Series 5kVA uninterruptible power supply with a lithium-polymer battery system features the first battery certified by the Transportation Department for use onboard mobile armored vehicles and high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, Falcon officials said. Hundreds of the rackmount ED-LIB Series 5kVA models are being used by the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, the company said.

Falcon uses its power conversion system to convert the three-phase, 400-Hz power provided by an auxiliary power unit in the vehicle to a clean, regulated 120 VAC/60 Hz source for onboard computer and communications gear, the company said.

“The Army challenged Falcon to design a lightweight battery pack and the necessary microprocessor-based battery management system for this application,” said Michael Stout, vice president of engineering at Falcon. “With the lithium-polymer battery system weighing 55 pounds, the Army was impressed by the system’s light weight, small size and a stellar backup time of 25 minutes at 2,300 watts — a lead-acid battery equivalent would weigh over 150 pounds. Every pound saved is an extra pound of armor on the vehicle, and this is vital for occupant safety.”

Thermal Imager System

Irvine Sensors will furnish clip-on thermal imagers for use by special operations forces through a subcontract from Optics 1.

The imagers, which provide a thermal infrared image through a camera lens, are designed to clip onto existing military night-vision goggles and complement the amplified low-light images produced by the goggles.

Optics 1 received a $37.8 million contract from the Naval Surface Warfare Center of Crane, Ind.  The subcontract is expected to be worth $18 million, Irvine Sensors officials said.

The companies have been jointly developing the clip-on thermal imagers during the past several years under government sponsorship.


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