Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
22 May 19. Belarus Introduces New UAS and EW Jammers. At the MILEX 2019 defense industry exhibition held in Minsk from May 15 to 18, Belarus introduced the Grach, a light multi-purpose unmanned aircraft system (UAS). It is a multicopter capable of conducting reconnaissance missions with sensors or small-scale armed attacks against troops and other soft-skinned targets with free-fall ordnance. With a payload capacity of less than 10 pounds, the UAS can drop four hand grenades, a small incendiary bomb, or a PTAB-2.5 anti-tank bomb. It can approach as near as 20 meters (60 feet) to its target before its motor becomes audible, claims the manufacturer-developer, KB Radar Design Bureau.
A new handheld radio-electronic warfare/jammer system from KB Radar was unveiled at MILEX. Weighing 6.5 kg (14 pounds) the battery-powered Groza-R2 is a development of the 18-kg Groza-R, with an effective range of more than 3,000 meters (9,000 feet). This was introduced during the 2017 IDEX show in Abu Dhabi. Following feedback from the military and the security services that they would favor a smaller, lighter, handheld version—albeit with reduced range—KB Radar Design Bureau developed the Groza-R2. Company sources at KB Radar said that a newer version of the system is under development. It is being adapted to urban warfare conditions and the protection of sensitive buildings against attacks by single and swarming UASs.
The Groza family of jammer transmitters is mostly intended for use against mass-produced, cheaper drones that pose a security threat to sensitive buildings, installations, and events. The guaranteed jamming range (against both satellite radio navigation and UAS control channels) is approximately 500 meters. Covered command and control (C2) frequency bands are in the range of 2.4 to 2.480 GHz and 5.725 to 5.850 GHz. Groza-R2 is capable of suppressing the UAS’ onboard GPS and Glonass satellite navigation systems. The frequency band of satellite radio navigation systems covered is 1.57 to 1.61GHz. Continuous jamming (radiation) time is 30 minutes. (Source: UAS VISION/AIN Online)
22 May 19. DHS Concerned that Chinese Drones are Stealing Data. Chinese-made drones may be sending sensitive flight data to their manufacturers in China, where it can be accessed by the government there, the US Department of Homeland Security warned in an alert issued Monday obtained by CNN. The drones are a “potential risk to an organization’s information,” the alert from DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency states. The products “contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself.”
The report does not name any specific manufacturers, but nearly 80% of the drones used in the US and Canada come from DJI, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China, according to one industry analysis. US local law enforcement organizations and infrastructure operators have grown to rely on drones in recent years.
“The United States government has strong concerns about any technology product that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data or otherwise abuses that access,” the alert says.
“Those concerns apply with equal force to certain Chinese-made (unmanned aircraft systems)-connected devices capable of collecting and transferring potentially revealing data about their operations and the individuals and entities operating them, as China imposes unusually stringent obligations on its citizens to support national intelligence activities,” the alert adds.
The warning from DHS follows an executive order signed by President Donald Trump last week that effectively banned US firms from using telecommunications equipment made by the Chinese company Huawei, which has drawn similar national security concerns of government spying.
The US and China are currently locked in a trade war that has frayed the two countries’ relationship as it deteriorated in recent weeks.
US officials have raised national security concerns about Chinese-made drones in the past. In 2017, the US Army issued a ban the use of DJI drones, alleging in a memo that the company shared critical infrastructure and law enforcement data with the Chinese government.
Also that year, an internal report from an intelligence division of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency in Los Angeles assessed that DJI was “selectively targeting government and privately owned entities within (the US. critical infrastructure and law enforcement sectors) to expand its ability to collect and exploit sensitive US data.”
Users are warned to “be cautious when purchasing” drones from China, and to take precautionary steps like turning off the device’s internet connection and removing secure digital cards.
The alert also warns users to “understand how to properly operate and limit your device’s access to networks” to avoid “theft of information.”
“Organizations that conduct operations impacting national security or the Nation’s critical functions must remain especially vigilant as they may be at greater risk of espionage and theft of proprietary information,” the alert states.
In a statement, DJI said that it gives customers “full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted,” adding that “customers can enable all the precautions DHS recommends.”
“At DJI, safety is at the core of everything we do, and the security of our technology has been independently verified by the U.S. government and leading U.S. businesses,” DJI said.
“For government and critical infrastructure customers that require additional assurances, we provide drones that do not transfer data to DJI or via the internet, and our customers can enable all the precautions DHS recommends. Every day, American businesses, first responders, and U.S. government agencies trust DJI drones to help save lives, promote worker safety, and support vital operations, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” DJI said.
DJI, which reported $2.7 billion in revenue in 2017, is best known for its popular Phantom drone. Introduced in 2013, the drone is the top-selling commercial drone on the market.
Seventy-nine percent of drones operating in the US and Canada and 74% globally are made by DJI, according to a 2018 market sector report from Skylogic Research, an industry analyst.
Industry experts say the drone’s easy-to-use software combined with sophisticated cameras and advanced technology allowed DJI to take over sales in the US for hobbyists, as well as professional organizations.
Agencies from local police departments to the Interior Department have used drones for sensitive work. According to the 2017 ICE memo, contractors in Kansas building a DHS bio-defense facility used a DJI drone “to assist with construction layout and provide security during construction.” (Source: UAS VISION/CNN)
17 May 19. US Chamber of Commerce outlines reservations over FAA remote drone ID proposals. Today, the U.S. Chamber along with 33 associations representing the aviation industry sent the attached letter on the FAA’s planned rulemaking on “Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems” to OMB, DOT, DOD, DOJ, and HHS as well as Senate Commerce and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. Read the full letter here.
The organisation is highlighting a number of key issues in the letter:
- We urge the Administration to convene key federal agency stakeholders including the FAA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice to collaborate on publishing a rule on remote identification without further delay.
- Given that the FAA projects the number of commercial and recreational UAS to more than double by 2022, it is imperative that we have a federal regulatory framework to detect and identify UAS.
- In addition to addressing the safety and security risks, remote identification will unlock the benefits of advanced UAS operations that will allow for the United States to lead in developing innovative UAS applications such as delivery, surveying, filmmaking, and search and rescue. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
15 May 19. Industry and government form Belgian Civil Drone Council to align technology, regulatory policies. Belgian’s air navigation service provider skeyes, the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) and Minister of Mobility François Bellot have created the Belgian Civil Drone Council (BCDA), an exchange platform for continuous dialogue on technological, operational and regulatory topics. The BCDA has been created to discuss an industry wide view on developing a drone regulation policy ahead of the summer of 2020 launch of new European rules for drones.
According to a 15 May press release from the BDCA: “All partners want to exchange information and experiences and promote collaboration in order to take the Belgian civil drone sector to the worldwide top and to guarantee the safety of all air traffic. The partners involved in the establishment of this Drone Council are BCAA, skeyes, the FPS Economy, the integrated Police, Defence and the Regions on the one hand and the constructors, operators, training providers, drone pilots and companies that develop and/or use drone technology on the other hand.
“In order for the activities to run smoothly and to be able to address as many topics as possible, separate working groups are created. They report to the central Executive Committee. The Belgian Civil Drone Council can deliver opinions or proposals to the public authorities and draw up recommendations for the sector, but can also organise own events so as to promote its activities within the sector and with political authorities.
Six working groups will be created at the outset:
- Operations, Regulation and Use, dealing with all operational aspects concerning operations with drones;
- Airworthiness, dealing with all technological aspects concerning operations with drones;
- Drone Integration, dealing with the progressive integration of drones in the manned air traffic;
- Security & C-UAV, dealing with all security aspects concerning operations with drones;
- Support & Promotion, responsible for all other aspects concerning operations with drones;
- Innovation, Research & Development, that will put forward proposals concerning research projects and skills needs.
“The Belgian Civil Drone Council calls for applications for its different working groups. Every Belgian citizen, organization or company working in a field covered by a working group may request to take part in its activities. Applicants can be drone manufacturers, operators, training providers, (professional) drone pilots, companies developing and/or using the drone technology as well as academic and public institutions.”
Eugeen Van Craeyvelt (Director General ai of the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority): “The Belgian Civil Aviation Authority pays particular attention to drones. In order to have a better idea of the relatively young and innovative drone industry and its specific needs, we regularly consult its representatives. The Belgian Civil Drone Council is the appropriate platform to develop and strengthen our cooperation with authorities, drone federations and companies. A good cooperation is indeed essential to offer the industry all the opportunities for its further development and at the same time to reach a high safety level.”
Johan Decuyper (CEO skeyes): “skeyes fully believes in the drone sector and supports it in many different ways. It is our pleasure to put our air traffic safety expertise at the disposal of the sector. Conversely, we listen to the expectations of all the actors and try to respond by offering practical support, not only with regard to information, but also on an operational level. From the preparatory stages onwards, we are already taking up our role as future air traffic controller of unmanned aircraft.”
François Bellot (federal minister of Mobility): “The Belgian drone sector is booming. Over the last few years I have met with and brought together the most important Belgian stakeholders to discuss the evolution of the technology and the further development of the drones sector. Safety and room for innovation have been the recurrent themes. It’s good that the existing cooperation, sector-wide and combining public and private stakeholders, will now be structurally organized by a platform that represents the whole of the Belgian drones sector.”
Patrick Mascart (Belgian Drone Federation BeUAS): “The Belgian Drone Federation is pleased to see that all the important actors of the industry cooperate to put in place a suitable framework for the development of these technologies of the future. The drone is already and will increasingly be an everyday tool in many industries and we are convinced that the establishment of the Belgian Civil Drone Council will make it possible for Belgium to develop a framework that will enable the efficient use of drones in the best safety conditions, allowing our country to remain one of the European leaders in this field.”
For more information
https://mobilit.belgium.be/nl/Belgian_Civil_Drone_Council (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
21 May 19. UK CAA brings together UTM, UAM and advanced ATM companies to research future regulations. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has launched a new research initiative to bring together urban air mobility, UTM and ATM companies to work together to explore, emerging concepts in an ‘Innovation Sandbox’ which will allow the authority to develop appropriate regulations.
The new UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Innovation Team, initially funded by a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) grant, has launched the Innovation Sandbox with six participants: UTM company Altitude Angel, air taxi manufacturer Volocopter, Amazon and its future drone delivery system, NATS and Searidge (the air traffic control body NATS and its digital tower partner), NBEC Consortium (Cranfield University and its partners, Blue Bear Systems Research, Thales and Vodafone) and Nesta Challenges – a collaborative engagement with cities, technologists, researchers, regulators, government, public services and the public to shape the future of urban drone use in the UK.
According to the CAA: “The CAA’s innovation team will work closely with the participants to help them understand how they can meet regulatory requirements. Ultimately, this will be one of the elements these innovators will need in order to bring their new aviation and travel products and services to market.” (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
17 May 19. Singapore navy confirms 16 m-class USVs aboard future unmanned vehicle ‘mothership.’ The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) will field 16 m-class unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) on its future multi-role combat vessels (MRCVs), a senior RSN official confirmed during a media briefing on the sidelines of the IMDEX 2019 exhibition held in Singapore from 14 to 16 May. Senior Lieutenant Colonel Wong Chng Tong, commanding officer of 194 Squadron, noted that the RSN is looking into embarking the Coastal Defence-variant of the Venus 16 USV – which will be specifically configured for maritime security/force-protection operations – aboard the MRCVs. These new frigate-sized vessels replace its six upgraded but ageing Victory-class missile corvettes that entered service from 1989.
Deliveries of this new class of ships, which will essentially be modular ‘motherships’ for unmanned aerial, surface, and underwater vehicles, are expected to commence from 2025 with full delivery expected in 2030.
“Besides improving capabilities the new MRCVs will be custom-built for lean manning and incorporate technologies to automate certain functions,” Singapore defence minister Ng Eng Hen revealed during a parliamentary speech in March. “This results in the MRCV using less manpower: about half the size found in modern frigates.” This will also result in operational cost savings of up to 10%, compared with similar-sized frigates, he added.
The RSN currently operates an undisclosed number of 9m-class Protector USVs supplied by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which were understood to have been initially acquired in 2004 to support the three-month deployment of RSS Resolution, an Endurance-class amphibious transport ship, to the Middle East Gulf. Protector USVs had also been subsequently deployed to the Gulf of Aden to augment counter-piracy operations. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
19 May 19. US, Croatia trial USV-UUV teaming capabilities. A combined US-Croatia research and development (R&D) programme is assessing the use of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to monitor and potentially alter navigational positioning of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). The concept is based on using USVs to navigate a UUV to a target, such as a mine, detected by another sensor.
The programme is being developed under an international agreement between the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the Croatian Ministry of Defence (MoD) called Co-operation in Unmanned Vehicles in the Maritime Environment (CUV-ME). The US Navy’s Naval Information Warfare Center-Pacific (NIWC-PAC) and the University of Zagreb, Croatia, are collaborating on the work. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 May 19. Zycraft expands Vigilant IUSV capabilities. Zycraft, a Singapore-based technology company specialising in the design and manufacture of unmanned surface vessels (USVs) for commercial and government applications, is continuing to push development of its Vigilant Independent Unmanned Surface Vessel (IUSV) and plans to validate new technologies within this year. With the hull design of the Vigilant IUSV already proven over years of extensive sea trials with a prototype named LongRunner, Zycraft President James Soon told Jane’s that the company’s priority is to further improve its proprietary autonomous collision avoidance system, which ensures that the craft can safely manoeuvre in congested harbours and waterways.
Zycraft has also developed the YZDDS-920 diver detection sonar (DDS), which is a compact sonar system measuring 30 cm in height and 42.5 cm in diameter that can be integrated aboard the Vigilant IUSV, other USVs and marine craft, or used as an emplaced detection unit to protect harbours or coastal facilities.
According to company specifications, the DDS is designed to detect open-circuit scuba divers at ranges of up to 600 m and divers equipped with oxygen rebreathers at up to 400 m away in all directions, up to a maximum depth of 50 m. The system comprises the 45 kg sonar head, a processing unit, and a laptop-based graphical user interface (GUI). It can track up to 100 targets and be configured to perform autonomous alerts when a threat is detected.
“We plan to integrate and test the sonar in the next few months,” Soon said, noting the company plans to conduct another long-endurance trial focusing on underwater survey and surveillance in the near future. He added that sonar integration work could open up further development paths for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) technology insertions in the future. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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