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11 Oct 18. China to Sell 48 Wing Loon UAS to Pakistan. China will sell 48 high-end military drones to its “all-weather ally” Pakistan in what a military observer said will be the largest deal of its kind, official media reported on Tuesday. The cost of the deal was not revealed.
Wing Loong II, a high-end reconnaissance, strike and multi-role endurance unmanned aircraft system, is manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will also be jointly manufactured, state-run Global Times reported. China, an “all-weather ally” of Islamabad, is the largest supplier of weapon system to the Pakistan Army. Both the countries also jointly manufacture JF-Thunder a single engine multi-role combat aircraft. The announcement by China to permit the sale of high-end military drones comes in the immediate backdrop of India’s move to acquire S-400 sophisticated missile defence systems from Russia. The deal was clinched during last week’s visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi.
The deal for the acquisition of Chinese drones was announced by Pakistan Air Force’s Sherdils Aerobatic Team on its official Facebook account on Sunday, the Global Times report said.
It did not reveal the cost of the deal, when it was struck or when the Wing Loong IIs will be delivered, it said.
The air force academy aerobatics team announced that in the future, the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company will jointly manufacture the drones, the report said.
Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group did not confirm when the deal was reached.
Wing Loong II made its maiden flight in February last year, an earlier report by the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
A Xinhua report in December last year said Wing Loong II UAS has already obtained the largest order of Chinese UAVs in the overseas market, even before its maiden flight. But the report did not specify the buyer.
According to the report, the system is composed of the ground station and various number of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Within 10 months of its maiden flight, multiple live firing tests had been conducted in accordance with the requirement of its customers, including stationary targets, moving targets, time sensitive targets and air-ground coordination, the report said.
A deal involving as many as 48 Wing Loong IIs, if confirmed, would be China’s largest export deal for drones to date, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times.
It makes sense the aerobatic team was closely involved with the deal, Song said, noting that the team is expected to train the drone operators.
The deal is trustworthy given the close military ties between the two countries and Pakistan’s need for drones, Song said.
US drones like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper are technologically more advanced, but Washington limits their export, Song said.
Chinese drones will enjoy more success in the international market in the future, he said, as they perform similarly at a lower cost. (Source: UAS VISION/Money Control)
11 Oct 18. USAF Deploys sUAS for Runway Damage Assesment. The Air Force is taking airfield defense and repair to new heights by implementing the Rapid Airfield Damage Assessment System, a method of using small, unmanned aircraft to scan for airfield damage under wartime conditions, and even provide roof and electrical wire monitoring in peacetime.
Two engineering technicians assigned to the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, were sent to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to receive training and become certified RADAS operators.
“In our (Air Force specialty code), we go over the airfield and mark damage,” said Senior Airman Herman Stribling, 51st CES engineering technician. “It takes more time and is dangerous to be on the airfield in pitch darkness looking for a crater or (unexploded ordnance). This way, it’s quicker and safer.”
By the end of two weeks of training, Stribling and his partner, Staff Sgt. Jason Holmes, 51st CES requirements and optimization technician, had flown multiple aircraft simultaneously, conducted day and night operations, and learned to track moving objects.
“This will be the standard for the Air Force,” Holmes said. “Even in the private sector, drones are being used to survey oil rigs, migration patterns of wildlife, and checking infrastructure.”
Currently, the operators are capable of flying two drones at once, but look forward to being able to fly multiple drones as a swarm in the future.
At this time, the use of small unmanned aerial systems, or drones, are only to be used by authorized military personnel, and Airmen and their families are reminded that personally owned drones are not permitted to be flown on Osan Air Base. (Source: UAS VISION/DIVDS)
09 Oct 18. Man-packable kamikaze drones offer front-line tracking and strike packages. Single-use suicide drones are making their way to the battlefield. UVision, a defense firm known for “lethal loitering systems,” fielded multiple variants of their own suicide drones at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington this week. The company’s Hero-30 drone tips the scales at 16.5 pounds — to include launcher and munition — and measures roughly 37 inches in length. It offers front-line troops the opportunity to locate, track and attack targets with an airborne loiter time of 30 minutes. The small anti-personnel warhead on the Hero-30 weighs in at a little more than 1 pound and is capable of destroying light-skinned vehicles, motorbikes or troops in the open. The Hero-30 is a pneumatic-launch, low-noise and low-thermal signature weapon system. It is controlled by operators using a tablet-like device and can reach speeds of up to 100 knots, a typical mission altitude of 600 to 1,500 feet above ground level and a data link line of sight up to 24 miles, depending on the mission. The system has undergone upgrades since it was first introduced, to include an upgraded launcher and training simulator. “Both the new launcher and the simulation system have been developed with the aim of enhancing efficiency of military forces,” Noam Levitt, CEO of UVision, said in a company release.
The new launcher makes the system even lighter than older models, while providing greater safety during a launch, thanks to an external compressed air canister.
At AUSA 2018, UVision also highlighted an advanced simulation system for the Hero line of drones. The simulator helps train forces while avoiding the costs, risks and other constraints inherent in live-fire training.
“The simulation system enables training in a virtual environment in order to fully prepare soldiers for live missions,” Levitt said. “In the field, the new launcher, with its reduced weight and external compressed air canister, offers the soldier operational efficiencies and ease of use.”
The Windows-based simulator includes 3D training databases, computer-generated forces and 3D objects. The system’s control hardware utilizes actual flight and wind tunnel data, as well as the Hero-30′s loitering munition autopilot and video tracking, to create a more realistic environment for trainers.
The Hero family of loitering munitions includes eight systems: Hero-30, Hero-70, Hero-120, Hero-250, Hero-400, Hero-400EC, Hero-900 and Hero-1250. Each system is designed for an assortment of tasks at various ranges and munition sizes. Larger variants, with bigger warheads, are beneficial in more advanced countries, where enemy targets may include battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. All Hero variants can be placed on a number of platforms — to include low-visibility vehicles, armored personnel carriers and naval vessels — using multi-canister launching systems. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
09 Oct 18. China, Pakistan to jointly produce Wing Loong II UAVs, says report. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) will reportedly jointly produce 48 Wing Loong II strike-capable, reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The announcement, which was made on 6 October via the Facebook page of the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF’s) Sherdils Aerobatic Team, was also covered by China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper. However, no details were revealed about the value of the deal, when it was struck, the delivery schedule, and whether all of the platforms are intended for use by the Pakistani military.
If confirmed, the deal would be one of the largest-known foreign orders placed for the Chinese-developed turboprop-powered UAV.
The latest developments come after commercial satellite imagery captured on 24 November 2017 showed that the Pakistani military may already be operating the Wing Loong I UAV. The imagery showed what appeared to be a single Wing Loong I in front of a hangar at the (PAF’s MM Alam airbase in the Mianwali District, which is located in Pakistan’s Punjab Province.
The second-generation Wing Loong II was first displayed at the China Airshow 2016 in Zhuhai, and conducted its maiden flight in February 2017.
In December 2017 the Xinhua news agency reported that the medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) platform hit five targets in succession using five different types of missiles as part of a live-firing test. Citing a statement by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), Xinhua reported at the time that by achieving a “100% hit rate” the Wing Loong II set a new live-firing record for a Chinese-made UAV in a single sortie. However, the report did not provide any details about the weapons that were test-fired. As Jane’s previously reported, the Wing Loong II bears a strong resemblance to the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper UAV, with its low-wing monoplane slender fuselage and empennage with a prominent V-tail and ventral fin. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Oct 18. Partnered with the U.S. Army, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) recently completed Follow-On Test & Evaluation (FOT&E) for its MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range. Testing of the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) began in early June and spanned 644 flight hours during the testing period. The successful test opens the door for MQ-1C ER initial fielding to the U.S. Army Intelligence & Security Command (INSCOM) and Special Operations Command (SOCOM), followed by units from Forces Command (FORSCOM).
“We expected the Gray Eagle Extended Range to perform well and it performed as advertised,” said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “The FOT&E highlighted some of the key benefits that the MQ-1C ER will deliver to our U.S. Army customer, including significantly increased endurance, more payload capacity to support future mission tasking, and considerable improvements in system reliability and maintainability.”
MQ-1C-ER flew close to 40 hours in support of critical testing which yielded results that significantly exceeded the goals for endurance. The soldiers tested the full range of MQ-1C-ER’s capability to support the Army’s vision for long range and persistent reconnaissance.
“The Gray Eagle ER clearly demonstrated its ability to support the future force. We added multiple payloads that enable it to perform a wide range of missions to further support the warfighter in contested operations,” said Alexander. The FOT&E was conducted in Palmdale, California at Air Force Plant 42.
08 Oct 18. Russian Gas Turbine for UAVs Passes Bench Tests. Benchmark trials of the small-size turbojet engine for ultra-light unmanned aircraft have been finished in Kazan, at JSC Eniks test bench licensed by the Russian Defense Ministry. The engine sets a new standard of economical efficiency in its class, director of Reynoldsdesign bureau Nikita Gusev told Mil.Press Today. The main purpose of the trials was to determine thrust and energy efficiency of Reynolds 500turbojet engine prototype. The testing was arranged in conditions similar to the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA). Specific fuel consumption was 1.24 kg/kgf per hour, and thrust was 48.6 kgf, which is confirmed by the official protocol.
“As we know, there are no engines with such fuel-saving capability in this thrust segment: commercial manufacturers of turbojet engines declare 10-40% higher fuel consumption. We have selected optimal cycle parameters in terms of fuel efficiency; the single-sided rotor support design improves efficiency of systems and increases the estimated service interval up to 300 hours”, Gusev said.
Further plans of the company include flight trials; preparation for them will take about half a year. Although the interviewee did not specify what kind of drone would take off with theReynolds’ engine, he added that the prototype had no difference with the serial sample.
Trial results were assessed by Amir Valiev, a board member of the association of operators and designers of unmanned aircraft systems Aeronet. “A pretty good result as of fuel consumption and service interval, 300 hours. Analogues normally demonstrate shorter service life. Speaking of the engine weight, however, 7 kg is a quite middling parameter for 50-kg thrust”, said the expert.
R500 is an engine with 50-kg thrust, fully-kerosene start and brushless 400W starter generator directly coupled with the engine. The turbojet engine is designed for unmanned aircraft systems with MTOW from 100 to 300kg. Reynolds LLC is a resident company of Skolkovo Innovation Center. It became one of the winners in Dual Technologies industrial sector of Generation S accelerator. (Source: UAS VISION/Mil.Today)
10 Oct 18. Textron’s X5-55 Demonstrator Revealed. In the crowded exhibit halls of the U.S. Army’s largest conference, a strange-looking drone — a small, flat, tailless, triangular aircraft with four flexible rotors — is suspended above a room full of giant wheeled vehicles and static helicopter displays.
That aircraft, Textron’s X5-55 demonstrator, hasn’t been built for a customer or a particular mission, but the company believes that some of the technologies it plans to mature on the X5-55 could be spun off for future U.S. military requirements like a replacement to Textron’s own RQ-7 Shadow.
The goal is not to come to the services with a family of new products it can adopt, said David Phillips, Textron’s senior vice president and general manager for unmanned systems. Instead, it plans to use the X5-55 as a test bed to mature new propulsion, rotor assembly and fuel cell technologies.
“We’re not going to say, ‘here’s your product,’ but we’ll listen to them and we’ll be ready,” he told Defense News in a Oct. 8 interview. “We know what our deployed customers want. Everything is about smaller, smaller, smaller, and doing more and [being] easier to operate and more agile and more flexible and quieter.”
What sets the X5-55 apart from other drones is its vector thrust technology that allows it to take off vertically, hover, transition to normal flight and land vertically using the four electric rotors, whereas other drones that vertically take off but fly like an airplane — like the company’s Aerosonde hybrid quad unmanned aircraft system — use electric-powered rotors for vertical flight and a heavy fuel engine to power their propeller during horizontal flight.
“The logic allows the system, basically, literally to eliminate what we call flight control surfaces. So you won’t see ailerons. You won’t see flaps, you won’t see servos and those things that control the elevation, climb and descend in normal flight,” he said. “That’s all done with the vector thrust. We change how those electric motors and the props work in tandem to be able to climb or descend.”
Textron unveiled the X5-55 this May at the Association for Unmanned Vehicles International Xponential conference, but the version shown this week at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference has already been modified with new propulsion pods and rotor assemblies that help enable vector thrust, as well as landing gear that protects the underside of the drone as it touches down.
The demonstrator flies every several weeks at Textron’s schoolhouse at Blackstone, Virginia. And over the next few months, the company plans to continue testing the drone’s ability to move from hover to standard flight, as well as eventually work up to endurance flights that prove how long the UAS can remain airborne.
Although the Army does not have a formal requirement for a Shadow replacement, officials have expressed interest in fielding one soon.
Earlier this year, Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who runs the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program, called a Shadow replacement an area where there is “potential, anyway, for a quick win,” and said that it should take a few years — not a full decade — to be able to field a new, runway-independent drone for the service.
“We are talking much, much shorter, so when I’m talking ‘soon,’ I’m talking just several years, not distant future,” he said. (Source: UAS VISION/ Defense News;
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