DARPA hosting final drone swarm demo in November, companies look for service buy in

by Ashley Roque

Shown here is an image of Northrop Grumman participating in DARPA's OFFSET programme. Both Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN will attempt to have a single operator control 200-plus ground and aerial drones during a November demo. (Northrop Grumman)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) may be focused on finding technologies to down aerial drones, however, its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is also working with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN on ways a single operator can control hundreds of ground and aerial drones at once. While this developmental effort has been ongoing for years, it is scheduled to culminate in November when both companies head to Fort Campbell in Kentucky for a field experiment where each entity will test out their respective technologies.

Under the agency's Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) programme, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have been working as ‘swarm system integrators'. In this position, they have been developing the architectures, interfaces, and their own swarm tactics exchanges – this houses tools to help design swarm tactics by composing collective behaviours, swarm algorithms, and existing swarm tactics – to enable a single person to operate hundreds of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) drones at once.

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I/ITSEC 2021: RUAG reveals new version of Gladiator

by Giles Ebbutt

The new G13 version of RUAG's Gladiator live training system was shown at I/ITSEC 2021. (Giles Ebbutt)

RUAG Simulation & Training has developed a new version of its Gladiator live tactical engagement simulation system (TESS), which it showcased at the Interservice/Industry Training Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2021, held in Orlando, Florida, on 29 November–3 December.

Jan Uebersax, RUAG's senior manager, strategy and products, told Janes that the new design, G13, resulted from the increased adoption of ballistic plate carriers and tactical vests, which meant that earlier versions of the Gladiator harness would no longer fit over the top of a soldier's equipment. He added that extensive research by RUAG had shown that most customers wanted a single version of a system, with the modularity either to be used for simple force-on-force training or in a fully instrumented environment.

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I/ITSEC 2021: Lockheed Martin VTESS fielded to US Army

by Giles Ebbutt

Lockheed Martin has passed the Government Acceptance Test on the Vehicle Tactical Engagement Simulation System (VTESS) it is providing to the US Army, and has delivered and fielded the first 160 base kits to Fort Polk, Louisiana, Ralph Briggs, senior business development manager, land training solutions, told Janes prior to the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando.

As prime contractor, Lockheed Martin was awarded the VTESS contract worth USD288 million in July 2017, and is partnered with Saab.

According to Briggs, the key characteristic of VTESS is that it is an open-architecture, component-based system that is compatible with legacy systems. He noted that because of this architecture, future component upgrades could be sourced from any manufacturer that could meet the specification.

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I/ITSEC 2021: Marathon Targets reveals new autonomous robot targets

by Giles Ebbutt

Marathon's new T50 (foreground) and T100 Autonomous Robotic Targets shown at I/ITSEC 21. The scuff marks on the armour plating of the T50 are from 6.8 mm rounds. (Giles Ebbutt)

Marathon Targets has upgraded its fleet of autonomous robot targets (ART) and showcased the updated versions at the International/Interservice Training Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando.

Ralph Petroff, Marathon president for North America, told Janes that the ARTs are “intelligent robots that move and behave like a real enemy, to form a thinking, adaptive, and unpredictable opposing force”.

Each target moves on a four-wheeled chassis driven by an electric motor and when hit will stop and fall. Groups of targets will advance and retire, using cover, according to the effectiveness of the fire against them. Petroff said that the use of ARTs can “improve the hit rate on moving targets from 20% to 80% in a single session”.

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