Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR DEC-JAN 2017 Contents 17
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 27 | DEC/JAN 2017
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The Australian Government will allocate AUD$4.9 million
to BAE Systems Australia to support the development of
unique electronic warfare technology for use by the Royal
Australian Navy (RAN).
The Cuttlefish program, a Defence Innovation Realisation
Fund initiative and a collaboration between BAE Systems
Australia and the Defence Science and Technology (DST)
Group, aims to develop a counter-surveillance capability to
enable the RAN to shape, disrupt and inhibit an adversary’s
surveillance and targeting of its platforms, according to a
22 November release from the office of Defence Industry
Minister Christopher Pyne.
Understandably reluctant to elaborate on technical
detail, BAE Systems Australia was able to tell DTR that the
MBDA Deutschland has successfully conducted tests of
a new high-energy laser (HEL) weapon (or effector), marking
the first test under real environmental conditions.
The primary purpose of the trials, conducted between 4
and 14 October, was to test the beam guidance and tracking
system, with simulated engagement of airborne quadcopter
targets. In this exercise, the targets were preset, scanned
with the laser target illuminator, and an aim point was held on
the target for an extended period. The quadcopter unmanned
aerial vehicle (UAV) targets performed a variety of often highly
dynamic manoeuvres at various ranges.
LEFT: A key component of the Cuttlefish counter-surveillance
techniques generator. Image: BAE Systems
Bionic knee to reduce soldiers’ load
New German laser weapon tested
The US Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and
Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is working with a private firm
to develop a bionic power knee harvester that may reduce the
battery load burden placed on deployed soldiers as well as
aid their mobility.
NSRDEC is collaborating with Canadian company Bionic
Power in a joint-service project for the US Army and US
Marine Corps (USMC) to develop the device, known as
PowerWalk. Project Manager Soldier Warrior, with the
addition of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and
USMC, leads the contract.
PowerWalk is an energy-harvesting device that is attached
to both the upper and lower areas of both legs and generates
useable electrical power from movement.
According to NSRDEC, PowerWalk is designed to extract
the energy expended when the knee is flexed and negative
work is being performed. The system adjusts to a person’s
gait to improve wearer comfort.
“Just by walking, soldiers could generate power,” said Noel
Soto, a NSRDEC project engineer. “We are converting the
movement of the knees when you walk into useful power.”
With soldiers now carrying multiple personal electronic
devices required for situational awareness, communications,
navigation, surveillance, operating at night and targeting
tasks, the demand for batteries to power them all is not
diminishing. The subsequent battery load is already a safety,
BAE Systems to develop ‘cloak of invisibility’ for RAN
Cuttlefish program aims to further mature an active counter-
surveillance techniques generator (TG).
This TG will be based on BAE Systems Australia’s state-
of-the-art digital radio frequency memory technology that
enables ships to be ‘camouflaged’ from advanced imaging
radars, thus denying remote surveillance of the vessel.
The technology will assist the RAN to operate in hostile,
The funding will enable BAE Systems Australia to continue
to mature the Cuttlefish TG capability over the next two years,
culminating in sea trials in 2019.
It also follows the award of two recent maritime domain
contracts to BAE Systems Australia including a 3-year,
AUD$32 million deal to provide the RAN with an improved
anti-ship missile test capability.
The other, under the DST Group’s Capability and
Technology Demonstrator program and known as the
Maritime Composite RF Sensor Performance project,
was awarded in early November and covers the continued
development and demonstration of advanced radio frequency
sensor technology that promises to significantly enhance
battlespace awareness for surface vessels. The AUD$1.2
million in funding will see the project run over 18 months.
– Ian Bostock
performance and efficiency concern, says NSRDEC.
Studies by NSRDEC have found that out of a typical heavy
load for an infantryman on a 72-hour mission, 7-9kg of that
load is batteries.
As the power it generates is able to charge a soldier’s main
battery, the aim is for PowerWalk is to reduce the quantity
of batteries that need to be carried, or otherwise extend the
mission with the same battery load.
The use of an energy-harvesting device to reduce the
overall weight a soldier must carry also lowers the risk
of lower leg injuries, as well as have a positive impact on
soldier mobility by reducing muscle fatigue during downhill
“As a generator, it creates power,” said Mr Soto. “As a
motor, it could enhance movement. It could potentially be
used in the future for human augmentation. It acts as a brake
when you are walking downhill. It actually helps soldiers by
preventing sudden movement on a slope.”
Devices like PowerWalk that reduce the number of
batteries a soldier must carry also free up space in packs that
theoretically would enable more food and water to be carried,
thereby postponing the need for resupply and extending
Field trials of the PowerWalk adapted for military use are
scheduled to commence in 2017.
– Mario Attopardi
The trials verified the functionality of the overall system,
including tracking of all targets in heavy rain and storms,
MBDA Deutschland said in a statement. During night trials,
the demonstrator also proved capable of acquiring and
tracking targets under conditions of poor visibility. In other
experiments, the laser team simulated defence against
a swarming UAV attack, which required rapid switching
between targets approaching from different directions.
Incorporating a number of proven technologies, the new
HEL effector system is integrated in a standard ISO container
and equipped with a 360° beam guidance system.
– Staff Reporters
ABOVE: The new containerised MBDA Deutschland high-energy
laser weapon system during the October tests.
Images: MBDA Deutschland
ABOVE: MBDA is examining laser armament options for naval,
air and ground-based mobile laser effector concepts with
capacities in excess of 100kW, 360° coverage and open system
architecture for close and intermediate-range protection against
micro UAVs and rocket and mortar targets.
The PowerWalk energy-harvesting
device (pictured) generates electrical
power when a soldier walks. That
harvested power can then be used to
keep batteries charged, subsequently
reducing the number of batteries
required to be carried.
Image: US Army
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