02 Jun 16. Aeronautics announces new Orbiter UAV. Aeronautics Ltd announced on 30 May that is developing a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) called the Orbiter 4. The Israeli company said the Orbiter 4 recently reached “its final steps” and will be launched towards the end of this year. Based on the aerodynamic structure of the company’s Orbiter 3 small tactical UAV, the Orbiter 4 is designed to have an endurance of more than 24 hours (a significant improvement over the Orbiter 3’s seven hours) and simultaneously carry and operate two different payloads.
The new UAV will be significantly larger, with a wingspan of 5 m, a maximum take-off weight of 50 kg, and a maximum altitude of 18,000 ft. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
02 Jun 16. Piaggio Hammerhead UAV prototype crashes. A P.1HH Hammerhead unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prototype has been lost in a crash at sea according to Piaggio Aerospace. The aircraft was lost five miles north of Levanzo Island off the Sicilian coast on 31 May, the company stated.
Speaking to IHS Jane’s on 2 June a spokesperson for Piaggio was unable to confirm the cause of the crash of the UAV, which is based on a Piaggio P.180 Avanti II executive transport aircraft. Piaggio noted that it has set up a unit to investigate the cause of the crash together with the authorities. Levanzo Island is located about 15 km off the western end of Sicily, adjacent to Trapani Bigri Air Base where the only known example of the Hammerhead (aircraft AV 001) has been conducting trials since making its maiden flight at the base in December 2014. The spokesperson was unable to confirm that it was prototype aircraft AV 001 that crashed, simply noting it was “a P.1HH”. The Hammerhead has been selected by both the Italian Air Force, which was announced as the launch customer for six aircraft in February 2015, and the United Arab Emirates Armed Force (announced in March 2016 to be buying eight aircraft). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 May 16. UK restricts drones near military bases. British authorities are restricting drone flights near some military bases to avoid collisions with aircraft. Anyone flying a UAV in the counties of Devon or Cornwall must first notify the Royal Navy, according to the International Business Times. “It’s important to note that the aim of contacting the Royal Navy isn’t to ask them for permission to fly, but rather by giving them notification of your flight, [so] they can then let their pilots know prior to them taking off, so that where able, they can avoid the area where you want to fly,” John Tansley, managing director of drone database No Fly Zone UK, told the newspaper. In addition, there is concern that camera-equipped UAVs will overfly military installations. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
01 Jun 16. Growing Skepticism Over Drone Attacks. New data about UK military operations in Iraq and Syria has been released to Drone Wars UK and Vice News over the past few days following separate Freedom of Information (FoI) requests. Vice News obtained details of the number of combatants killed or wounded in RAF strikes each month since Oct 2014. The data shows that just under 1,000 combatants had been killed with almost 100 wounded. While the MoD are extremely careful to say they cannot validate such casualty figures as they have no one on the ground, at the same time they continue to insist that no civilians have been killed in any of 740 British air strikes which have launched around 1,400 bombs and missiles. The claims echo those of the US which argues that only around 40 civilians have “likely” been killed in a total of around 12,000 air strikes by the Coalition. Reports complied by Airwars indicate that a minimum of around 1,200 non-combatant civilians have died in these strikes. Airwars founder Chris Wood told the Independent, “Even with the widespread use of relatively precise weapons by the West, air strikes are the most lethal weapon against civilians. It would be unprecedented i