30 Nov 16. Aeronautics targets Europe for Orbiter 4 STUAS. Israeli company Aeronautics is targeting Europe as a key market for its newly revealed Orbiter 4 small tactical unmanned aircraft system (STUAS), a company official told IHS Jane’s on 29 November. Speaking at the Berlin Security Conference (BSC) 2016 in the German capital, a company representative who asked not to be identified said that Aeronautics is targeting Europe specifically as there is a lack of STUASs in this particular class to accompany forces when they deploy overseas.
“We are at the Berlin Security Conference as we are very interested in the European market. In our opinion, we are leading the mini- and small-UAS sector and while Europe already has its larger UAS requirements catered for it currently does not have this capability,” the representative said.
According to the representative, Aeronautics has already secured three “opportunities” for the Orbiter 4, which was launched onto the market in June. While he declined to divulge any further details, it is likely that one of these opportunities is the Israeli Defence Force, while another may be Azerbaijan which was the venue for the STUASs international debut in September. As noted by the representative, deliveries to the unnamed ‘opportunities’ are yet to commence.
With regard to Europe, the representative told IHS Jane’s that a number of high-level officials has already spoken to him at the Berlin Security Conference, with particular emphasis on how the system might be fielded in theatres such as Mali and/or the wider Middle East. “Every army that deploys abroad will need this capability,” he said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Nov 16. Tunisia Confirms US Drones Operate from Local Airbase.
The Tunisian president has confirmed that American surveillance drones are operating from his country. Beji Caid Essebsi’s statement comes after his defense minister Farhat Horchani had denied media reports that any such thing was happening.
While last month Washington declined to comment officially, off the record briefings suggested that unarmed drones were being flown from an airbase in eastern Tunisia to monitor terrorist activity in the west of Libya. It was said that between 70 and 90 American servicemen were with these aircraft. However, stories that the drones were armed and being used against IS terrorists in Sirte did not seem to make sense, given the offshore presence of the assault shipUSS Wasp from which air strikes on the town and surveillance missions were already being launched.
The Tunisian president’s statement will come as an embarrassment to Horchani who last month categorically denied the drone reports. “We were among the first countries to oppose foreign military intervention in Libya,” he told a local radio station, “We don’t and we won’t have a foreign military base in Tunisia”.
However, Essebsi has insisted that the US drones are being used purely for the defense of Tunisia, patrolling the border area with Libya. (Source: UAS VISION/Libya Herald)
30 Nov 16. Kratos BQM-177A Subsonic Aerial Target Ready for Production.
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. has announced that its Unmanned Systems Division (USD) has recently successfully achieved the final development program milestone for its BQM-177A Subsonic Aerial Target (SSAT), which will allow for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) to begin once the Federal Fiscal 2017 Budget is approved.
The SSAT program is designed to meet the U.S. Navy’s requirements for a new High Fidelity Target to replicate subsonic anti-cruise missile threats in direct support of fleet training and weapon system testing and evaluation.
The BQM-177A will initially augment, and will eventually replace the existing BQM-74E Targets and will deliver longer range, lower cruise altitudes and greater maneuverability. The SSAT Program is being managed by the Naval Air System command (NAVAIR) Aerial Target and Decoy Systems Program Office (PMA-208).