26 Jan 16. IDF considers rotary-wing UAVs for battalion-level ops. Feedback from an infantryman has led to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) including rotary-wing unmanned air vehicles in its search for a new battalion-level system. A request for proposals for the UAV is expected by mid-2016, which is likely to outline the requirements the IDF has for a system weighing 2kg (4.4lb) with a 20-30min endurance and carrying an optical payload. The unit price is also a factor because it is expected that in many combat situations the system will not be recovered.
The operational aim is to allow a large number of infantry soldiers in any formation of a battalion level unit to operate the system.
The only infantry unit currently using UAVs is the IDF’s artillery corps “Sky Rider” unit, that operates the Elbit Systems SkyLark I-LE, and operations in Gaza led Tel Aviv to restart the acquisition of a larger system in April 2015. The Skylark I-LE is designed for data collection and targeting at mission ranges exceeding 60km. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Flight Global)
26 Jan 16. Report details the threat of small, commercial drones. It’s no secret that the military is beginning to take seriously the threat that commercial unmanned aerial systems pose to personnel and military interests. One area of concern, for example, is that the proliferation of inexpensive drones could produce expendable one-way flying bombs. But while aerial drones get most of the attention, they are only one third of the threat, as ground and maritime-based unmanned systems are becoming available. From individuals to terrorist groups, the threat is metastasizing, despite the monopoly the U.S. military has maintained on unmanned technology.
“Although there is still a large gap between the capabilities of military and civilian drones, commercially available drones are giving hobbyists, companies and hostile groups access to capabilities previously only available to the military,” a new report published by the Remote Control Project, based in Britain.
The report detailed a variety of use cases and threats posed by the use of drones:
Lone wolves – Individuals with malicious intent, from those that planned to fly an explosives-laden model aerial vehicle into the Pentagon to the device that landed on the roof of the Japanese Prime Minister’s residence with radioactive materials, are becoming more commonplace. Between January 2013 and August 2015, the report stated, there were 20 suspicious drone related incidents in or around London alone.
Terrorist groups – Terrorist organizations are beginning to utilize drones more and more. While groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah and the Hamas affiliated Al-Qassam Brigades have used drones for years, organizations such as ISIS are using them to a greater degree, including using a remotely controlled car loaded with explosives. These groups are primarily using drones for aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on the battlefield – a capability previously unavailable to terrorists that did not possess expensive aerial assets – but are also deploying them for filming propaganda.
Insurgent groups – There has been a heavy concentration of drones recorded in Ukraine since the Russia-linked uprising of separatists against the central government in Kiev. The Donetsk People’s Republic, a Russian-backed separatist group in Eastern Ukraine, as well as the well-known Columbian separatist and terrorist organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, known by their Spanish acronym FARC, have deployed drones to improve operations.
Corporations – The report documents select instances in which corporations have used drones to obtain sensitive information as a means of gaining a competitive edge.
Organized crime groups – Cross U.S. border drug syndicates have used drones to smuggle illegal drugs as a means of escaping the ground border patrol agents. A downed drone last year was carrying three kilograms of methamphetamine