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Flir Defense wins $62 million robot orders from US military...

14 Jul 2022

...Northrop Grumman progresses 300kW laser weapon; Elbit’s Helicopter Vision Suite enables pilots to “own the weather”.

Teledyne Flir Defense (Flir) has won new orders worth $62.1 million from the U.S. Armed Services for its vision-enabled, multi-mission robots. The U.S. Army, Navy, and other command centers placed orders for nearly 500 more Centaur unmanned ground systems, including additional spares, antennas, and payload mounting kits.

This latest award raises the value of the original Man Transportable Robot System Increment II (MTRS Inc. II) contract from roughly $190 million to more than $250 million.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams use the Flir ground robot to disable unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices, landmines, and to perform similar dangerous tasks. Operators can quickly attach different sensors and payloads to the robot to address other missions, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

Since 2020, Flir has announced orders totaling more than 1,800 Centaurs from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

“Our Centaur platform continues to prove itself as one of the most versatile and sought after tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicles to support America’s military,” said Tom Frost, general manager of Flir’s Unmanned Ground Systems. “Centaur also can be used effectively for UXO clearance in hotspots such as Ukraine, and with global security threats on the rise, allied nations can leverage this multi-purpose robot to support a wide array of manned/unmanned operations.”

The Teledyne FLIR Centaur is a described as “an Interoperability Protocol (IOP)-compliant robot featuring an advanced EO/IR camera suite, a manipulator arm that reaches over six feet, and the ability to climb stairs.”

Flir recently launched two newly upgraded ground robot systems – the PackBot 525 man-transportable UGV and the Kobra 725 heavy payload UGV. Deliveries are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023.

Northrop Grumman completes design review for 300kW laser

Military and aerospace technology developer Northrop Grumman has completed the preliminary design review for a high-energy laser prototype that will feature an architecture scalable to more than a megawatt for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The review establishes the company’s technical approach for precise, low-cost, speed-of-light technology for military operations.

“This is an important step in the ability to combine high-power laser beams into a single beam that can be scaled for maximum power,” commented Robert Fleming, vice president and general manager, strategic space systems, Northrop Grumman. “We’re on track to demonstrate the technology, leveraging our decades of experience in the field.”

In March 2021, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Northrop Grumman a $72 million contract under the High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative to demonstrate a high-energy laser prototype using Northrop Grumman’s coherent beam combining technology.

The company commented that it “will test the prototype at progressively higher powers later this year to prove the coherent beam combining design.”

Helicopter Vision Suite enables pilots to ‘own the weather’

Israel-headquartered defense firm Elbit Systems has launched a technological “vision suite” for military helicopters. The package integrates a sophisticated sensor array, an AI-driven mission computer and a helmet-mounted display system. This enables helicopter pilots to see through the body of the aircraft and gives them a wide field of view, day and night, in challenging weather and visibility condition.

Elbit says these capabilities address one of the toughest operational challenges of military helicopters – conducting low-altitude flights during degraded visibility conditions, significantly expanding the operational envelop of military helicopters, transforming extreme weather and other degraded visibility conditions into an operational advantage.

The suite comprises: the recently introduced X-Sight HMD system for helicopters; a new AI-powered mission computer for real-time data fusion and machine learning of obstacles and threats; and an integrated array of sensor systems combining the innovative Xplore radar together with the operational BrightNite multi-spectral payload, which includes both day and Infra-Red cameras for thermal vision.

Xplore is a compact airborne radar that can be installed onboard any aircraft enabling flight during all visibility conditions. The radar generates a synthetic picture of flight route terrain, providing advanced warning of obstacles, such as power lines and antennas, enabling low altitude flight even in zero visibility.

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