03 Nov 15. UK suffers third Watchkeeper mishap with Salisbury Plain landing accident. The UK suffered its third mishap with a Thales WK 450 Watchkeeper tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), when one was involved in a landing accident at the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Boscombe Down facility near Salisbury Plain in southern England.
The incident, which occurred on 2 November, saw one of the army-operated UAVs suffer extensive damage when it crashed on the runway while being recovered from a routine training sortie, the MoD has confirmed. There were no injuries and an investigation has been launched.
While the MoD has not yet revealed the extent of the damage or whether the vehicle is repairable, the incident is the third accident to befall the Watchkeeper fleet since it entered service last year. According to the response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request received by IHS Jane’s in early October, the previous two saw a vehicle suffer Category 5 (write-off) damage during an event at West Wales Airport (Parc Aberporth) on 16 November 2014, and another suffer Category 1 (minor and repairable) damage at Roberts Barracks on 27 April of this year.
The cause of the first incident is still under investigation, while the second was attributed to ‘human factors (loose article)’. Although the first aircraft was deemed to be beyond economic repair, the aircraft that suffered minor damage was repaired and later returned to service.
Developed from the Elbit Hermes 450, the 500 kg-class Watchkeeper is operated by the British Army as an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) platform to prosecute intelligence-led operations alongside other UK UAVs, such as the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper of the Royal Air Force (RAF), the army’s hand-launched Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk III, and the Black Hornet micro-UAV. Its primary sensor is the Thales I-Master ground-moving target indication/synthetic aperture radar (GMTI/SAR), which is used for pattern-of-life analysis and counter-improvised explosive device detection. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Nov 15. South Korea Develops Attack Drones. North Korea is believed to have a fleet of military drones. And now, South Korean researchers are testing unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to take on that threat.
The South Korea unmanned craft is no ordinary drone. It is designed to detect and attack an enemy UAV in mid-air. Shim Hyun-chul, head of the unmanned systems research group at the science and technology graduate school KAIST, and his team of students recently tested the new technology. He said drones can be made by anyone these days.
“The fear is that the drones are very easy to build… They can do a lot of things. It appears as a very new threat,” said Shim.
And in South Korea, that threat comes from the North. (Source: UAS VISION/Voice of America)
02 Nov 15. Iran gifts ScanEagle copy to Russia. Iran claims to have a small token of friendship: an Iranian-made copy of a U.S. ScanEagle drone.
“The drone built by the [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps] is a symbol of the technical capabilities of the Islamic Iran and today we presented a real model of it as a gift to [Russian Air Force Commander] Lieutenant General Viktor Bondarev and the Russian people,” announced an Iranian general after meeting with Russian Air Force officers in Tehran, according to the Fars news service.
In February, Iran showed images of a production line for copied ScanEagles, which are purportedly being used by the Iranian military. “In December, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh had said that the recent capture of the U.S. ScanEagle by the IRGC was nothing new as Iran had previously captured a similar drone and even copied it for production,” Fars said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
02 Nov 15. Sikorsky Tests OPA Version of Black Hawk. The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk has been a staple of U.S. military operations going back more than 30 year