The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded two new contracts to BAE Systems for developing new technology that would enable unmanned aerial systems (UASs) to conduct multiple functions.
To be developed as part of DARPA’s Converged Collaborative Elements for RF Task Operations (CONCERTO) programme, the new technology will allow compact UASs to perform a wide range of mission tasks with single, multifunction payloads.
The new technology will enable the UAS to enhance mission efficiency by adapting to changing battlefield situations and mission needs in real-time.
Under the contracts with a combined value of $5.4m, BAE Systems will focus on optimising the RF capabilities of the hardware to ensure that all missions can be accomplished from the same components.
BAE Systems technology development manager Randall Lapierre said: “This agility is particularly important in denied environments, where multiple mission functions are typically needed to penetrate defences and remain operational.
“By enabling small platform systems to share core components, we’re helping them become more agile and stay on station longer.”
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DARPA’s CONCERTO project focuses on supporting communications, radar and electronic warfare (EW) systems with a flexible RF architecture that uses shared common hardware. This facilitates multifunction systems that address the low-SWaP requirements of compact UAS.
The converged systems will be capable of switching between intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; command and control; networking; and combat operations support missions without physical payload changes.
The company is also building a flexible, virtual RF processing engine that can be reconfigured to support diverse and simultaneous operating modes.
Image: CONCERTO concept of operations. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.