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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

06 Apr 14. US uses Germany for its deadly drone warfare. Germany has found itself amid a drone scandal after a former US Air Force unmanned aerial vehicle operator (UAV) revealed that the United States had repeatedly used its military bases in that country for drone warfare in Africa, Yemen and Pakistan. Brandon Bryant, who flew more than 1,000 UAV operations in Pakistan and Yemen, while seated in at his control pad in New Mexico, over his five years of service in the US Air Force, told Germany’s Seuddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and NDR television that “the entire drone war of the US military wouldn’t be possible without Germany”. Bryant, who retired in 2011, told reporters last year that that US bases in Germany had been used for attacks on suspected terrorists in Somalia. He now says that the Ramstein Air Base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate has played a key role in strikes on Pakistan and Yemen. Bryant’s unit was responsible for over 1,200 targeted killings in Pakistan. The Ramstein base is actually the nerve center for drone operations as UAV data is first sent to Germany via satellite links and then to America via fiber optic cable. Secret teams of US intelligence officers stationed in Germany analyze live pictures transmitted by drones. In the wake of Bryant’s revelation, the Greens party has urged the German government to take action. But even if those assurances are proven to be false, it will be difficult for the German government to take legal action as that would mean that it would have to terminate the 1950 NATO Statues of Forces Agreement that regulates the deployment of US bases in Germany and allows US military and civilian personnel to take whatever measures they deem appropriate, up to drone strikes, to fulfill the alliance’s defense obligations. So jurisdiction lies with the US, said international law professor at Potsdam University Andreas Zimmermann, commenting on the issue. Theoretically, Germany could terminate the Status of Forces agreement, but that would be a “huge political decision that would question the entire alliance,” he said the Deutsche Welle news agency reports. It’s unlikely that Germany will want to do that, but it can use political measures. (Source: Open Source Information Report/The Voice of Russia)

08 Apr 14. US ONR demonstrates Lockheed’s optimus technology. Lockheed Martin and the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) have successfully demonstrated Lockheed Martin’s optimus mission system’s capability to accomplish an autonomous approach and landing in an unprepared environment. The demonstration was conducted as part of the autonomous aerial cargo/utility system (AACUS) programme. During the testing, which was held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, US, the team validated optimus technology aboard a Kaman K-MAX unmanned helicopter, which served as a test bed. In a resupply mission, an active-duty marine interfaced with the mission system’s handheld flight-control device, and it was successfully planned, routed and implemented without user input. Designed to enhance the on-board intelligence of the vehicle, optimus technology provides an advanced mission-planning capability for current and future helicopters, as well as rotary-wing aircraft. It primes aircraft for operations in austere environments or terrains, and allows users to execute missions day and night in all weather conditions. In addition, the system includes a multi-layer world model and active sensor control to improve on-board perception and understanding for missions in which operators have limited or no knowledge of the location. The AACUS aims to enable the Marine Corps to rapidly resupply forces on the front lines while serving as an alternative to dangerous convoys, manned aircraft or air drops. Naval research chief rear admiral Matthew Klunder said: “With AACUS, an unmanned helicopter takes the supplies from the base, picks out the optimal route and best landing site … lands, and returns to base on

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