26 Jan 17. Germany has extended a leasing contract to operate the Israeli Heron-1 unmanned aerial system (UAS) for another year in support of ongoing operations in Afghanistan, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced Thursday. IAI is the prime contractor for the medium-altitude-long endurance system. Estimated at tens of millions of dollars, the contract concluded between the German Defence Procurement Agency and Airbus DS Airborne Solutions, a subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, extends Heron operations in Afghanistan until February 2018. In its Jan. 26 news release, IAI noted that its Heron-1 recently marked 30,000 hours in Afghanistan since the German Air Force began operating the system in 2010. The Israeli firm noted that over the years, its Heron UAS has supported Afghanistan operations by several NATO allies, including France and Canada. The German Air Force also is operating the Heron-1 in Mali as part of a United Nations policing mission.
“Our connection with the German Air Force is of course highly important, and we are proud to continue to provide an operational solution together with the excellent cooperation we have with Airbus,” said retired Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Shaul Shahar, IAI’s executive vice president and general manager of the firm’s Military Aircraft Group.(Source: Defense News)
26 Jan 17. Panther-FE Fixed Wing VTOL Flight Demonstration. The Panther FE hybrid-powered vertical take off and landing drone developed by IAI and the South Korean company Hankuk Carbon made its maiden flight in Korea recently. The FE-Panther uses three electrical motors for vertical lift and an internal combustion engine for horizontal flight. The new variant weighs 67 kg. – only two kilograms more than IAI’s existing three-motor electrically powered Panther. Hankuk Carbon provides the fuselage assembly, made of lightweight composite materials, and some sub-systems. The new propulsion system extends the mission endurance of the Panther by 33%, maintaining the same payload capacity (6 kg.) as the original all-electric version. The hybrid propulsion system enables users to employ two different power sources – the tilting electrical motors are optimal for vertical takeoff/landing and hovering, while the internal-combustion engine is employed for cruising. IAI and Hankuk Carbon outlined their cooperation a year ago. Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two companies, the parties will pursue the feasibility study of the concept of a VTOL UAS for South Korean requirements. (Source: UAS VISION/Defense Update)
24 Jan 17. US Army researchers demonstrate JTARV flying capabilities. The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), along with industry partners, has demonstrated the flying capabilities of a rectangular-shaped quadcopter at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Also known as the hoverbike, the joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle (JTARV) is expected to help US soldiers order and receive supplies on the battlefield. According to researchers, future JTARVs will be capable of flying at a range of heights at speeds of more than 60mph. ARL Protection Division associate chief Tim Vong said: “Anywhere on the battlefield, soldiers can potentially get resupplied in less than 30 minutes. Amazon on the battlefield. We want to have options like that.”
The current hoverbike prototype is electric, but researchers are currently experimenting with a hybrid propulsion system that would significantly increase the system’s range. The US laboratory is also exploring options to enhance the JTARV’s payload capacity to 800lb, as well as extend its range up to 125 miles.
Vong added: “We’re also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We’re looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions.”
Besides government, academic partners and other industry, the project is also teaming with the US Office of