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16 Mar 17. Iraqi forces use weaponised commercial drones.: The Iraqi Federal Police (IFP) has become the first government force known to have used weaponised commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), copying a tactic that is being increasingly widely used by the Islamic State militants.
The IFP released a video on its Facebook page on 2 March that was filmed by a UAV as it dropped improvised munitions, purportedly against Islamic State targets in Mosul, where the heavily armed police force is playing a major role in clearly the western side of the city. The munitions were stabilised using plastic skirts taken from shuttlecocks.
The IFP released a longer video on 12 March showing IFP personnel arming two similar munitions, loading them on to a DJI Matrice 100 quadcopter and then controlling the UAV from a ground control station as it dropped its small bombs a few meters from its aim point at a road junction in a built-up area.
The IFP said the new tactic allowed it to avoid causing civilian casualties and damaging infrastructure.
Priced at USD3,300 without a camera, the Matrice 100 is a relatively expensive commercial UAV that is pitched more at professional users than hobbyists. DJI promotes it as a “fully customisable and programmable flight platform that lets you turn your ideas and dreams into reality”.
It is designed to carry payloads weighing up to 1 kg, making it a better weapons platform than the cheaper DJI Phantom quadcopters that the Islamic State has been using to drop improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are only designed to carry GoPro-type cameras. The Matrice 100 can hover for 13 minutes with a 1 kg payload when using the standard battery.
The Islamic State indicated that the IFP’s UAVs are vulnerable to ground fire when it released a video on 8 March showing three that it said had been shot down by its fighters in Mosul. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Mar 17. The U.S. Army is taking delivery of a 60 kilowatt-class laser from Lockheed Martin as the company wraps up demonstrations of the capability.
“In testing earlier this month, the Lockheed Martin laser produced a single beam of 58kW, representing a world record for a laser of this type,” the company said in a statement Thursday.
Lockheed was contracted to deliver the combined fiber laser for the Army’s Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, or HEMTT, the largest vehicle in the Army inventory, after previously testing a 10-kW laser on the platform. Once the laser is integrated, that becomes the High Energy Laser Mobile Test Truck. Boeing is doing the integration work. The laser is based on a design developed under the Department of Defense’s Robust Electric Laser Initiative Program, as well as through investments into the 60 kW-class system by the company and the Army. The Pentagon has made directed energy an important priority because military officials believe ultimately employing lasers will dramatically decrease the cost of firing shots. Missiles, rockets, artillery and mortars would ultimately cost far more than shooting with a laser, and with the proper power source, laser weapons would never run out of ammunition. The delivery of the more powerful laser to the Army marks another important milestone in developing directed energy to be used as laser weapons on a variety of platforms. The 10-kW specialized commercial-off-the-shelf welding laser on a HEMTT was tested between 2010 and 2014 in the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator program and shot down targets in flight, to include class 2 unmanned aircraft systems and 60mm mortars at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The less powerful laser was also tested at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, during a maneuver fires integration experiment last spring where the primary targets were class 1 quadcopter UAS as well as ground targets like simulated g