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27 Sep 18. Indonesian Navy deploys STERNA UAV for first magnetic measurement mission. The Indonesian Navy has successfully used a STERNA unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with an aerial magnetic range to evaluate the magnetic signature of a vessel. The portable UAV solution has been used for the first time to assess the vulnerability of a ship against underwater mines and other enemy detectors. Developed by ECA Group in 2016, the drone was deployed by the Indonesian Navy in July. Based on the company’s IT180 unmanned airborne system, the STERNA UAV is a part of set-up degaussing systems in compliance with Nato standards. IT180 is a compact, high-performance mini-UAV vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that integrates a magnetometer and its digitiser. The drone enabled the Indonesian Navy to complete the measurements of the vessel’s magnetic signature in less than one hour in operational conditions.
Indonesian Ministry of Defence HAT and SAT inspector colonel Anis Kelaikan said: “Using the latest technology certainly has an impact on effectiveness and efficiency without reducing the purpose and the objective of the test, so using STERNA will be much faster than the old method and will provide us with more accurate results.”
The magnetic measurement was carried out by the mini-helicopter system using the norm of the magnetic vector instead of the three axes relatives’ components. (Source: naval-technology.com)
27 Sep 18. Bell Unveils V-247 Vigilant Tilt-Rotor Combat Drone. As the U.S. Marine Corps looks to move ahead with its multi-role, vertical landing and takeoff-capable drone program, known as MUX, Bell has unveiled a new, full-scale mock-up of its V-247 Vigilant unmanned tilt-rotor at a technology exposition at one of the service’s own bases. The company has been actively pitching the design as an option for MUX project, but it has a modular design that could make it appealing to other U.S. and foreign military services, as well. Bell showed the full-size model to the public for the first time at the 2018 Modern Day Marine Expo at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia on Sept. 25, 2018. The firm first announced it was working on the V-247 design at all in 2016, around the same time that the Marines first revealed the MUX concept, which officially stands for Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System Expeditionary.
“The Bell V-247 Vigilant is leveraging combat-proven technology making the future of aviation a reality today,” Todd Worden, Bell’s Senior Manager for Global Military Business Development speaks, told attendees at the Modern Day Marine Expo while standing in front of the model. “It’s a testament to the power and versatility of tilt-rotor flight.”
The V-247 uses technology derived from both the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, which the Marines already fly, as well as the still-in-development V-280 Valor, which the company has pitched to the U.S. Army as part of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. The unmanned Vigilant will be capable of autonomous flight and will have the necessary data links to support teaming up with manned aircraft, according to Bell. The company also says the drone can turn its wings and fold its rotors in order to fit within the same physical footprint as a Marine UH-1Y Venom utility and light attack helicopter, which is a key MUX requirement. The company has long pitched the design as a multi-purpose platform, with multiple internal payload bays for weapons, radars and other sensors, and other specialized mission equipment. The new model is in a light attack configuration with four underwing pylons and sensor turret under the fuselage that could carry various electro-optical and infrared cameras, as well as a laser designator. Bell’s mock-up at the Modern Day Marine Expo was carrying four dummy AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and a dozen inert Fury multi-mode precision-guided miniature munitions. Textron, Bell’s parent company, produces Fury, which is a small glide bomb that can use either laser or GPS/INS guidance options to attack stationary or moving targets in various weather and environmental conditions.
What the Marines refer to as “Offensive Air Support” is relatively low on their priority list for the MUX drone, ranked fifth out of seven total potential missions for the system, according to documents the service publicly released in June 2018. An airborne early warning platform is the Corps’ most pressing demand as it is a capability the Marines presently rely on other services to provide. You can read about the MUX’s possible mission profiles in greater detail in a past War Zone feature on this system.
The modular nature of the V-247 could give it the capacity necessary to carry the powerful air search radar necessary for the airborne early warning mission. The Vigilant in this configuration would also need significant communications systems and data links necessary to send out critical information to other Marine assets and command centers.
The V-247 model at the Modern Day Marine Expo also notably features an in-flight refuelling probe, which was not present on earlier models and in previous concept art of the design. This feature, combined with the Marines’ plans to adopt an aerial refuelling tanker kit for the Osprey, would help extend the overall range of the drones or allow them to loiter over a particular area of the battlefield for extended periods of time. This could be especially useful for examples of the drone operating in the airborne early warning role, but would also be valuable for versions flying other MUX missions, such as persistent surveillance, armed over-watch, and communications relay missions. (Source: UAS VISION/The Drive/The Warzone)
26 Sep 18. Check out the massive ‘do-it-all’ drone that Marines could choose as their wingman. Officials have unveiled a built-to-scale model of a futuristic tilt-rotor drone that they hope meets the need for massive firepower and intelligencethat Marines want to have their back or as their wingman in a fight. The Bell V-247 Vigilant is an unmanned, armed escort that, if demonstrations prove out, could be the hub of both delivering its own payload or coordinating fires from air, land, sea, space, cyber and electronic warfare nodes. And if you fold the wings, it fits in all the spaces a V-22 Osprey does with room to spare. It even takes up less room than a UH-1Y helicopter. Bell is looking to meet the needs of the Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Expeditionary drone, or MUX.
Marines want the MUX to do it all, but to start with: airborne early warning, command and control communications, digitally passing information, intelligence and reconnaissance and electronic warfare.
This drone may be able to carry 2,000 pounds internally and sling load up to 9,000 pounds. But with the use of comms and sensing tech the Marines see it as having a “bottomless magazine.”
That’s because, as was shown in multiple, detailed augmented reality displays, the drone would not only fire its payload but coordinate fires from manned jet fighters, ground-based troops either mounted or dismounted and ships at sea. The up to 25,000-foot ceiling that the drone can reach would put it in the Group 5 category, the largest drone in the fleet and the largest the Corps has ever had organic to its ranks. That same AR display also gave viewers visuals on how the drone can deploy from an LHA, DDG or be loaded on a C-5 and flown to a site. And payload options mean that C-5 flight could include a big plane holding a large drone holding a swarm of other drones it can control.
Lockheed Martin cameras mounted to the drone also give the remote drone pilot a “distributed aperture” a feature on Bell’s V-280 Valor, a helicopter replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The aperture feature allows those in the manned V-280, whether pilot or passenger, to see through the frame to any point around the aircraft. Kind of like Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, only it’s only invisible to those inside, said Keith Flail, program manager with Bell. With the aperture feature on the Vigilant, the remote pilot can see 360 degrees around the drone as they fly for increased situational awareness. The Vigilant is still in a research phase but has already flown 240 knots and is capable of more than eight hours on station with 600 pound payload and up to 1,300 nautical mile mission radius. (Source: Defense News)
26 Sep 18. Hoverfly Technologies Inc., an American tether-powered drone manufacturer has announced its new all-weather LiveSky SENTRY line of tether-powered UAS. The all-weather LiveSky SENTRY is designed to meet IP54 and MIL-STD-810 standards and is now a military-grade tether-powered UAS available for any mission. IP54 standards define the level of protection for extreme conditions like dust, water and moisture and MIL-STD-810 defines U.S military environmental test requirements for conditions where the LiveSky SENTRY is expected to operate.
“Compliance to these standards means our military, public safety and commercial security customers who need the ability to operate in harsh environments can rely on the new battle-ready and tested tether-powered UAS, the LiveSky SENTRY,” says Hoverfly CEO Rob Topping.
In addition to its new all-weather capability, Hoverfly has developed three versatile system configurations. The new precision landing platform called SkyBox comes either in an enclosed covered or uncovered design. SkyBox represents a true autonomous enterprise solution that can be remotely controlled through cloud-based software or an SDK kit for seamless integration.
SkyBox operates autonomously from anywhere — even from the back of a pick-up truck. The third configuration is a mobile tether kit featuring an integrated landing nest and hand-held tablet for expeditionary applications that require fast deployment. (Source: UAS VISION)
25 Sep 18. British autonomous technology tested in mock urban battlefield. Canadian soldiers have tested new British autonomous technology under a mock urban battlefield environment in Montreal. Known as SAPIENT, the advanced technology has been developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and UK industry partners. During the test, UK-built sensors demonstrated ability in autonomous decision making as they scavenged the mock urban battlefield and informed the soldiers taking part in the experiment about the potential dangers. Developed within five years, the SAPIENT technology was built through multi-million-pound research that was initially funded jointly by Dstl and InnovateUK and exclusively by Dstl since 2016.
The technology uses automation and artificial intelligence to ensure that the troops are provided with the necessary information whenever required.
UK Defence Procurement Minister Stuart Andrew said: “This British system can act as autonomous eyes in the urban battlefield.
“This technology can scan streets for enemy movements so troops can be ready for combat with quicker, more reliable information on attackers hiding around the corner.
“Investing millions in advanced technology like this will give us the edge in future battles. It also puts us in a really strong position to benefit from similar projects run by our allies as we all strive for a more secure world.”
SAPIENT has been designed to help minimise the risk of human error while reducing the number of troops required in the operations room. The test was carried out in the Contested Urban Environment experiment (or CUE 18), which brings together Five Eyes allied nations of the Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. The countries will join forces to provide the army with the latest and advanced technology in order to help address emerging threats and enhance their situational awareness. In addition to SAPIENT, a number of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles and soldier technologies were also tested and used to provide information to an operations centre for analysis by scientists and military personnel. (Source: army-technology.com)
24 Sep 18. AVIC’s AV500W VTOL UAV takes part in PLA exercise. The Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s (AVIC’s) AV500W vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been used in a military exercise with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to a 21 September report by the PLA-sponsored China Military Online website.
Citing AVIC’s official WeChat account, the report pointed out that the strike-capable, reconnaissance UAV performed well in the “combat exercise”, during which it “simulated conducting defence-penetration operations at mid- and low altitudes”.
“The results showed that the air-defence penetration combat capability of the AV500[W] lived up to expectations,” it added.
The announcement comes after the state-owned China Daily newspaper quoted the Jiangxi Provincial Office of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense as saying in November 2017 that the AV500W had conducted firing tests in Qinghai at an altitude of 4,300m above sea level. The paper also reported at the time that the platform had climbed to an altitude of 5,006 m during tests carried out on 31 October 2017: the maximum altitude achieved by a Chinese-made VTOL UAV. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/IHS Jane’s)
24 Sep 18. Belarus showcases Yastreb UAV. The Belarusian aerospace industry is expanding its portfolio of strike-capable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a source from the Belarusian Academy of Sciences’ Research and Manufacturing Center of Multipurpose Unmanned Aerial Systems (NPT MBK) told Jane’s. “Belarus has developed the Yastreb [Hawk] UAV with a maximum take-off weight [MTOW] of 700kg,” the source said. “This is the heaviest drone developed by the country.” The Yastreb adopts a twin-boom airframe that takes off and lands conventionally and can be supplied in three configurations – reconnaissance, combat, and target. It can carry a payload of up to 120kg. The air vehicle is powered by a Rotax-912S2/100 combustion engine, producing cruise and maximum speeds of 120km/h and 220 km/h respectively. It has a stated endurance of six hours, although this can be extended to 10 hours with an external fuel tank.
Its gyro-stabilised sensor suite comprises a daylight camera, thermal imager, and laser rangefinder, although it can also carry up to three 25kg loitering munitions on its hardpoints. These are equipped with a 10kg high-explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) or high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead and feature an automatic guidance system. NPT MBK claims that these munitions can engage targets out to a maximum distance of 50km with a circular error probable (CEP) under 2. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/IHS Jane’s)
21 Sep 18. Precision XYZ to Present on Drones, IOT and Mapping at Solar Power International 2018. At SPI, Company Will Launch First Drone and Data Modelling Service Designed Exclusively for the Solar Industry. Precision XYZ, the only drone service provider focused exclusively on the solar sector, will formally launch and demo next week at Solar Power International (SPI). Former SunEdison executive Mark Culpepper and current Managing Partner will also present on IOT and mapping at the leading solar conference from September 24-27 in Anaheim, Calif. Almost two years in development, Precision XYZ combines drone-secured data with financial modeling and software engineering, to help developers, EPC firms, asset owners and O&M companies to drive project velocity, improve project build quality, and increase power plant yields. With Air-2-Ground, their SaaS application that’s included as standard in all services, customers benefit from accurate, efficient and fast data services.
“With over 1.2GW of completed projects under our belt, we know how to work with the solar industry,” said Mark Culpepper, Founder and Managing Partner of Precision XYZ. “Leveraging our solar, aviation and tech expertise combined with practical field knowledge, our Air-2-Ground application is specifically designed to ensure that our clients services are delivered quickly, accurately and efficiently.”
“Precision XYZ gives us one more tool in our tool belt to mitigate risk and record and report activity in the field during the pre-construction development and construction process. By adopting the Precision XYZ platform, we’ve taken project construction tracking to a new level, enabling our clients to easily see and share data in near real time as projects are being built. Not only does this help drive project productivity, it facilitates efficient communications with our clients and partner organizations,” said Jeff Calabro, EVP of Business Development and Pre-Construction for ArrayCon. “We look forward to working with Precision XYZ on future projects.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
21 Sep 18. Milkor’s Latest UAS at South Africa Show. At AAD 2018, International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition, the South African Defense Company MILKOR presents its full range of new UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) including the MA 80 especially design to perform surveillance missions. The Milkor Surveillance UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) is a new breed of powerful, long endurance, portable aerial surveillance systems. The UAS is a turnkey product incorporating a variable payload capacity with maximum efficiency for extra long endurance missions. The UAS is equipped to carry the world leaders in optical imagery equipment providing real-time high definition and infrared video data acquisition transmitted to remote receivers, This coupled with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) makes the platform a complete all weather solution. The flight control system provides for fully autonomous missions including autonomous take-off and landing capabilities. A dedicated payload bay is also provided to installed customer specific payloads, intelligence payloads and equipment. The unmanned aerial vehicle is a low wing Hail design with, low-drag, very low wing loading for maximum performance and efficiency. The latest technology four-stroke boxer engine provides fuel efficiency increasing the systems endurance.
The UAS is equipped with dual redundant Line of Sight Communications (LOSCom) equipment that maintains contact with the control unit up to 250km. The communications systems is equipped to manage the passing of control to alternate ground control units with zero link downtime.
The Ground Control Station is the command, control and payload interface between the ground mission control crew and the UAS. The Ground Control Station is portable and fully integrated to perform mission planning and simulation, UAS control and monitoring, Communications control and Payload Control. The surveillance and reconnaissance payload capacity of the MILKOR MA 80 is 15kg and the UAS can carry electro-optical and infrared cameras. It has a wing span of 6m and a maximum take-off weight is 80kg. The MILKOR MA 80 is powered by an internal combustion engine, driving a two-blade propeller mounted at the rear of the fuselage. The drone can transmit telemetry data to a range of maximum 250 km from the launch station and endure for approximately 24 hours. Its cruising and maximum speeds are 120km/h and 160km/h respectively. (Source: UAS VISION/Army Recognition)
20 Sep 18. After cuts, 2019 drone budget still largest ever for Pentagon. Even after being cut by hundreds of million, fiscal year 2019 is set to be the Pentagon’s spendiest year for drones. The drone budget request, dispersed among branches and nestled in other programs, came in well over $9bn. As finalized in the conference budget minibus passed by the Senate Sept. 18, that drone budget is down by $400m, which makes it still the largest budget for drones since the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard University started tracking funding for uncrewed machines. The largest cuts to drone spending came in the form of a $200m reduction in funds for research, development, testing and evaluation of the MQ-25 Stingray tanker drone. The decreased funding here is likely more about Boeing having a prototype on hand, rather than a lack of interest in the program. Also seeing a significant reduction is the MQ-9 Reaper program, cut by about $160m, which means five fewer aircraft. Funding for the Navy’s counter-drone directed energy weapon, the Laser Weapon System, was also reduced by $90m.
“They also cut Hellfires for the Air Force,” says Dan Gettinger, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard University. The AGM-114 Hellfire is an anti-tank missile also used in an anti-personnel capacity, and one of the many drone-related programs tracked by the Center.
“The explanation given for that is that that it was previously funded requirement. They funded a lot for Hellfires last year. So I’m guessing they have a bunch left over.”
The change wasn’t all reductions. Funding for RQ-4 modernization was increased by $100m to a total of $127m. The Submarine Tactical Warfare System’s budget was increased by $4.5m to fund more development in a submarine-launched uncrewed aerial vehicle. Two different DARPA programs for artificial intelligence related to drones and ISR were added by the Senate, for a total of $40m in new drone AI funding.
Noticeably unchanged in the budget revisions is the funding allocation for the multiple small quadcopter programs. Inherently low-cost, these smaller drones make up the vast majority of uncrewed airframes set to be purchased in the coming year, and if they prove as useful to a conventional military as they have to non-state actors and irregular forces, we can expect to see more of them annually. Even after the cuts, the new drone budget is up by about $1.5bn over the purchase outlay for 2018. Drone war is no longer a novelty or a sideshow in modern battlefields. It’s just part of war now. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
21 Sep 18. China’s Blowfish I VTOL UAV enters service with PLAN. Officials from Chinese company Ziyan revealed at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2018 exhibition in South Africa on 19–23 September that the Blowfish I vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The Zhuhai-based UAV manufacturer, who did not provide any details about the number of Blowfish currently in service with the PLAN, showcased a model of the electric-powered 1.75 m-long platform at the show carrying three missile-like projectiles. According to Ziyan, the Blowfish I has a maximum take-off weight of between 28 and 50 kg and an endurance of between 45 to 60 minutes. The UAV can reach an altitude of 5,100 m and carry a payload of between 7 and 12 kg, excluding its electro-optical system. Officials at the show told Jane’s that the UAV can also be equipped with anti-personnel grenades and be modified to deploy small sonobuoys upon customer request. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Sep 18. Serbia confirms procurement of Chinese UAVs. Serbian Deputy Defence Minister Nenad Miloradovic on 17 September confirmed that Serbia will buy unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) from China. Miloradovic made his statement, broadcast by the Tanjug state news agency, in Beijing a day after several Belgrade media reported that Serbia would acquire six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from China, including two Chengdu Aircraft Industry Wing Loong II medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UCAVs. According to media, the UAVs will be assembled locally in Serbia using Chinese-supplied technology. Miloradovic did not comment on what systems were being procured but said the agreement included industrial co-operation and technology transfer. “The technology transfer will provide the Serbian defence industry with the capability to integrate complex electro-optical (EO) systems into indigenously developed UAVs capable of conducting battlefield surveillance day and night, transmitting target co-ordinates and providing artillery fire control, and targeting with laser-guided bombs and rockets launched from ground-based platforms or UCAVs,” he said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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