Military

LEONARDO ACQUIRES FULL OWNERSHIP OF SD-150 HERO UAV

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LEONARDO HAS ACQUIRED THE REMAINING SHARES OF SISTEMI DINAMICI FROM IDS OF ITALY, PROVIDING IT WITH FULL OWNERSHIP OF THE SD-150 HERO UNMANNED HELICOPTER PROGRAMME.

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RATEL BOMB DISPOSAL DRONE FLIES, WALKS AND GRABS

Ratel

Bomb detection in UAVs can be life saving, and there are those service members who are in need of a technology that is fully customizable. There are not a lot of custom frames on the market that deal with advanced prototyping. I would like to introduce you to Advanced Aerials who are true innovators when it comes to drone prototyping for various commercial and military applications. Bert Wagner founded Advanced Aerials in 1994 and has a long history of providing commercial work. Bert has also spent nearly two decades collaborating with the military using UAVs for Counter Explosive Hazard R&D.

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FRANCE ORDERS THALES SPYRANGER MINI UAV

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French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) has selected Thales’s latest-generation Spy’Ranger mini surveillance and reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to equip the French forces.

Up to 70 mini-UAV reconnaissance systems (SMDR) will be made available from 2018. Each system consists of three mini-UAVs, a ground segment and the associated technical support, the company announced today. Starting in 2018, Thales will provide French forces up to 210 mini reconnaissance UAVs.

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TEXTRON PITCHES VTOL SHADOW TO AUSTRALIA

VTOL Aerosonde

Textron Unmanned Systems is studying the feasibility of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) variant of its RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which it hopes could be an upgrade option for the Australian Army’s ageing fleet.

In 2016, the company revealed a VTOL variant of its smaller Aeronsonde UAV dubbed the HQ, and it is now assessing the possibility of transferring this technology to the Shadow.

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MILITARY UNLEASHES WORLD’S LARGEST DRONE SWARM

The U.S. Defense Department released the largest swarm of autonomous micro-drones during a recent test over China Lake testing ground in California.

Traveling at Mach .6, three F/A-18 Super Hornets successfully launched 103 Perdix drones from the fighters’ underbelly flare dispensers. With a tiny, 11.8-inch wingspan and weighing only .6 pounds, the drones withstood temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius as well as a jarring jolt upon ejection.

Reading very much like the next Terminator movie script, a DoD press release states: “The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.

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ORBITAL BUILDS ENGINE FACTORY CLOSE TO INSITU

Orbital N20 Engine

Following a $90 million agreement with Boeing’s unmanned aerial vehicle subsidiary InSitu, an Australian company that makes engines for aerial drones is setting up a facility in the Columbia Gorge close to InSitu. Orbital, based in Perth, has signed a three-year deal with Boeing to supply InSitu with a new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) engine.

It plans to move into an existing facility within six months, probably in Bingen, the Klickitat County town where InSitu is headquartered. It projects about 15 jobs to the area initially, though that should scale up later, InSitu said.

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DRAGONPLATE RELEASES CARBON FIBER UAV QUADCOPTER KITS

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DragonPlate, known for high quality, ready to purchase carbon fibre components has just released UAV quadcopter frame kits. These kits provide the basic structure necessary for anyone interested in building their own carbon fibre multi-rotor. In addition to the assembly templates and instructions, full CAD models are available for download for each kit. This allows the integration of motors, controllers, batteries, and cameras into the design before even purchasing the components. Expert level builders will be able to use the CAD models as a baseline for more sophisticated designs, for example, larger units with additional rotors.

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CHINA’S SHARP SWORD WINS TECHNOLOGY PRIZE

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The Sharp Sword UAV, China’s stealthy attack drone, just won second place in the National Science and Technology Advancement Prizes. Considering the secrecy surrounding stealth drones to come out of China—there are relatively few photos of the Sharp Sword available, particularly as opposed to, say, the J-20 fighter—the Sharp Sword’s victory is pretty noteworthy.

The drone, known as “Lijian” in Mandarin Chinese, is being paraded as a huge win for Chinese aviation technology.

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US ARMY FLIES HOVERBIKE PROTOTYPE

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory and industry partners demonstrated the flying capabilities of a unique rectangular-shaped quadcopter during a visit from DOD officials at APG Jan. 10.

Dr. William Roper, director of the Strategic Capabilities Office at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and members of his staff visited the laboratory to see the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle, or JTARV.

Also known as the hoverbike, the vehicle may one day make it possible for Soldiers on the battlefield to order resupply and then receive those supplies rapidly.

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IAI AND HANKUK HYBRID PANTHER FE SLT MAKES MAIDEN FLIGHT

panther FE

I could have tried harder to fit more abbreviations into that title. Made in South Korea under an MOU from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) by the South Korean composite manufacturer, Hankuk Carbon (HC), the Panther FE is a fuel cell equipped tri-copter separate lift thrust vehicle. I believe I am right in saying the only tri-copter SLT on the market at the moment. One less motor taking a ride as a passenger.

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SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SETS 56-HOUR FLIGHT RECORD

Vanilla Aircraft VA001
The VA001 is being developed for military surveillance and communications plus commercial missions. (Photo: Vanilla Aircraft)

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and its developer reported this month that a small unmanned aircraft powered by a heavy-fuel engine flew for 56 hours without refueling, setting an apparent flight record for its subclass. Vanilla Aircraft, based at Falls Church in Virginia, is developing the VA001 for military communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as commercial remote-sensing applications.

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COAST GUARD CONDUCTS SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM TESTING ON CUTTER STRATTON

The Coast Guard completed system operational verification testing of a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) on Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, a national security cutter (NSC) based in Alameda, California, Jan. 2.

The Stratton crew and UAS program officials tested the power, communications, and launch and recovery systems that make up the sUAS to ensure that all parts functioned as needed and to identify areas requiring improvement. The full system consists of the aircraft, a ground control station, and a forward and an aft directional antenna, which contain the necessary fiber optic cables needed to communicate with the aircraft. Installation of the system components was completed Dec. 23; testing began a week later.

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GENERAL ATOMICS NEW SKYGUARDIAN HAS COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL

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The new SkyGuardian variant of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS) represents more than an upgraded model of the company’s familiar aircraft.

Brandon Suarez, General Atomics technical director for UAS civil airspace integration, noted that the SkyGuardian has a longer fuselage and a redesigned nose to accommodate an air-to-air radar that adds detect-and-avoid capabilities. It’s also been designed for all-weather flying.

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NEWS: ISLAMIC STATE’S DRONE DOCUMENTS REVEALED

Screen capture from Islamic State video

Much has been made of the Islamic State drone threat ever since the group killed two Kurdish soldiers in October 2016 with a bomb hidden within one of its drones that Kurdish forces downed in Iraq.1 The Islamic State was able to achieve this feat through an act of deception, as the two Kurdish soldiers were killed by the bomb after they had taken the drone back to their base to inspect it.

Since this type of attack had not been conducted before, the drone was an unassuming place for the Islamic State to hide an improvised explosive device. But that trick only works occasionally, and it likely has a limited shelf life.

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NEWS: UNMANNED WARFARE OFFICE ELIMINATED IN US NAVY SHUFFLE

US Navy

A U.S. Navy office set up less than two years ago to oversee the warfare development of unmanned systems has been eliminated, the Navy announced.

The Office of Unmanned Warfare Systems — coded N99 in the Navy’s system of identifying offices reporting directly to the chief of naval operations, collectively known as OPNAV — is being broken up and its functions distributed to other offices, Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of naval operations, told service leaders in a Feb. 8 message.

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SHADOW LOST IN ARIZONA FOUND UP A TREE IN COLORADO

Shadow UAVA US Army RQ-7 Shadow that disappeared on a training flight in southern Arizona turned up hundreds of miles away in Colorado, stuck in a tree, and the military is trying to figure out how it got there.

“An investigation into what happened is the next step,” Fort Huachuca spokeswoman Tanja Linton said.

Linton said the Huachuca drone lost contact with its ground station at 5:16 p.m. Jan. 31, prompting a wide-ranging search in Arizona. But the wandering drone wound up being found by a hiker in the foothills west of Denver.

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DARPA RELEASES TERN PHASE THREE VIDEO

tern

Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), seeks to greatly increase the effectiveness of forward-deployed small-deck ships such as destroyers and frigates by enabling them to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for specially designed unmanned air systems (UASs). DARPA last year awarded Phase 3 of Tern to a team led by the Northrop Grumman Corporation to build a full-scale technology demonstration system. The program has since made significant advances on numerous fronts, including commencement of wing fabrication and completion of successful engine testing for its test vehicle, and DARPA has tasked Northrop Grumman with building a second test vehicle.

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NEWS: INDIA WANTS TO CONVERT 2 TON HELICOPTERS INTO UAVS

unmanned Naval Chetak

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has invited global firms with capabilities in specific areas of design and development for conversion of 2 ton class Helicopters into Rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (RUAV).In a bid to accomplish requirement of unmanned platforms for Indian armed forces in fixed timeframe, “HAL desires to select risk sharing partners for development of specific technologies/systems to meet the overall requirement of developing the Unmanned Helicopter,” according to a document published by HAL.

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NEWS: YEMENI ARMY UNVEILS INDIGENOUS DRONES

This photo provided by the media bureau of Yemen’s operations command shows Qasef-1 (Striker-1)

Yemeni army forces have unveiled four domestically designed and manufactured drones to collect information on the positions and movements of militiamen loyal to resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, as well as Saudi troops, and carry out aerial attacks against them.

The sole unveiled combat aircraft, code-named Qasef-1 (Striker-1), has a wingspan of three meters and a hull length of 2.5 meters.

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NEWS: PENDLETON RANGE TO TEST ARCTICSHARK

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ArcticShark – a groundbreaking new unmanned aerial system designed to collect the world’s most sophisticated atmospheric data in the Arctic – will undergo flight testing at Pendleton UAS Test Range. Testing began February 27.

To be owned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, a DOE national scientific user facility, the ArcticShark will eventually be equipped with more than a dozen different instruments designed to record the most sophisticated measurements ever gathered about Earth’s atmosphere and thus help scientists better understand one of the most sensitive regions of the planet.

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NEWS: QF-16 FIRST FLIGHT AT HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE

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The QF-16 drone took its first flight at Holloman Air Force Base Feb. 10, 2017. The manned sortie was the first for the QF-16 at Holloman AFB since the retirement of the QF-4 Phantom in 2016.

“The first flight is significant because it is the first step for us in standing up the QF-16 program,” said Lt. Col. Ronald King, the commander of Detachment 1, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron. “Manned flying is critical in our development of the remote control and unmanned mission capabilities necessary for us to provide QF-16 full-scale aerial targets to our Defense Department and foreign military sales customers.”

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NEWS: $3 M PATRIOT MISSILE SHOT DOWN A $200 DRONE

Patriot launchA Patriot missile – usually priced at about $3m (£2.5m) – was used to shoot down a small quadcopter drone, according to a US general. The strike was made by a US ally, General David Perkins told a military symposium.

“That quadcopter that cost 200 bucks from Amazon.com did not stand a chance against a Patriot,” he said.

Patriots are radar-targeted weapons more commonly used to shoot down enemy aircraft and ballistic missiles.

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NEWS: IAI REVEALS EXPORT VERSION OF HERON TP

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has developed an export-specific version of its Heron TP medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle, which will be displayed for the first time at this month’s Aero India show in Bengaluru.

Adapted from the baseline Heron TP – which has been in Israeli air force service since 2010 and was also selected by the German air force – the XP model has been designed to comply with the restrictions imposed by the international missile technology control regime 2 (MTCR 2) agreement. One of the main changes has been to reduce its payload capacity from more than 1t to 450kg (991lb).

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NEWS: BIRDEYE WINS SOUTH AMERICAN BORDER PROTECTION DEAL

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is to equip an undisclosed South American country with its BirdEye 650D small tactical unmanned air vehicle, with the equipment to form part of a broader border protection capability.

Announcing the deal on 27 March, IAI says the award – worth “tens of millions of dollars” – also includes BirdEye 400 mini UAV and tethered Hovermast 100 surveillance systems, plus land-based sensors from its Elta Systems subsidiary and ground vehicles.

With a maximum take-off weight of 30kg (66lb), including a 7.5kg payload, the BirdEye 650D has an operational line-of-sight range of 81nm (150km) and a 15h endurance, IAI says.

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NEWS: BRAZIL’S CAÇADOR UAV CLEARS TESTING HURDLE

Brazil’s Caçador unmanned air vehicle – an adapted version of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron 1 – has received approval from the nation’s defence ministry as a so-called strategic defence product, following a series of flight tests conducted in different areas of its territory.

Made in advance of April’s LAAD Defence & Security show in Rio de Janeiro, the development stems from a three-year relationship between IAI and its Brazilian partner, Avionics Services, which have worked together to establish in-country expertise and a UAV centre at Botucatu airfield.

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