Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
20 Jun 19. Iceland is first nation in Europe to use Hermes 900 maritime patrol. Iceland has become the first country in Europe to deploy Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) maritime patrol services.
Icelandic’s maritime authorities are using the long-range service based at Egilsstaoir Airport in the east of the country to enhance the maritime patrol over the nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Deployment of the Hermes 900 at the airport allows it to cover more than half of the Icelandic EEZ.
In November last year, Elbit Systems secured a contract from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to provide maritime UAS patrol services.
The contract contains a two-year base period and two single year option periods.
The company is implementing the contract in cooperation with Portuguese firm CEiiA.
Elbit Systems ISTAR Division general manager Elad Aharonson said: “We are pleased to have been able to commence operation only a few months after the contract was awarded to CEiiA.
“Providing maritime UAS services to European Union authorities is a vote of confidence in the Hermes 900. Extensively deployed, the Hermes 900 family of UAS is continuously extending its capabilities, introducing the capability to operate in civilian airspace and integrating self-protection suites and stronger payloads.”
Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 unmanned maritime surveillance system is suitable for littoral and blue water operations.
The product offering comprises maritime radar, an electro-optic payload, satellite communication, an automatic identification system (AIS) receiver, and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) receiver.
Hermes 900 can be used to monitor sea and long coastlines. It is also capable of identifying suspicious activities and potential hazards.
The system used by Iceland is designed to withstand the strong winds and icy conditions encountered over the North Atlantic Ocean. (Source: naval-technology.com)
19 Jun 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has signed a strategic agreement with AirMap, the leading global airspace intelligence platform for drones, to collaborate on future projects to safely integrate unmanned aerial systems, commonly referred to as drones, into the national airspace system and unlock the positive economic and social benefits of expanded commercial drone operations.
“AirMap is ushering in a new era in drone aviation,” said Matt Gilligan, vice president of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “Drones must safely operate in an already complex ecosystem, which is where our experience matters.”
The agreement combines the two companies’ expertise:
- Raytheon’s Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS, is used by air traffic controllers across the U.S. to provide safe and efficient aircraft spacing and sequencing guidance for more than 40,000 departing and arriving aircraft daily at both civilian and military airports.
- AirMap is the leading global provider of airspace intelligence for UAS operations, with over 250,000 registered users. In 2018, the majority of U.S. registered commercial drone pilots used AirMap to request over 45,000 automated authorizations to fly in controlled airspace.
“Raytheon technology has helped safely and effectively manage airspace in the most complex, dense controlled airspace in the world for decades,” said Ben Marcus, AirMap Co-founder and Chairman. “They are an ideal partner to join AirMap on the path toward enabling safe, efficient, and scalable drone operations in U.S. low-altitude airspace between 0 and 400 feet.”
The two companies are working toward an integrated demonstration that will showcase how AirMap’s unmanned aircraft traffic management platform can increase air traffic controllers’ awareness of potential conflict between drones and manned aircraft near airports to ensure overall safety of the airspace.
AirMap is the world’s leading airspace intelligence platform for the drone economy. Industry developers, drone operators, and airspace managers rely on AirMap’s airspace intelligence and services to fly safely and communicate in low-altitude airspace. AirMap unlocks safe, efficient, and scalable operations by connecting the world’s drones to airspace authorities through an open platform of APIs and SDKs, with integrations by top drone manufacturers and solution providers including 3DR, DJI, DroneDeploy, Intel, Matternet, and senseFly. Deployed in the Czech Republic, Japan, Switzerland, the United States, and available in over 25 countries, AirMap leads the industry in delivering technology solutions for UAS Traffic Management (UTM) and U-space to enable safe and responsible drone operations at scale. AirMap supports several drone enablement and research projects globally, including NASA UTM, the European Network of U-space Demonstrators and the U.S. UAS Integration Pilot Programs. For more details visit https://airmap.com.
17 Jun 19. On May 28-29, 2019, the Netherlands Research Laboratory (NLR) worked with and authorized General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) to conduct a simulated flight demonstration where civil Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) in an ATC Tower and Terminal Approach Facility managed the flight of a Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in a busy civilian airport like a manned aircraft. The flight featured a simulated MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA, which is designed and developed by GA‑ASI.
“This simulated MALE RPA flight operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) was actively managed by civil ATCOs, dealing with every conceivable contingency scenario,” said David R. Alexander, president, GA-ASI. “This demonstration helps show the Air Traffic Management community that flying large RPA in civil airspace can be as safe as managing a commercial manned aircraft, when the RPAS is properly designed.”
GA-ASI supported the 3-D modeling of the SkyGuardian so that NLR, through NARSIM, could enable civil ATCOs to control the RPA as if it was any manned aircraft, taking off and landing at a civil airport. NLR facilitated the demonstration in their facility and set up seven contingency and emergency scenarios for the RPAS pilot to fly, including Loss of Propulsion; Loss of Datalink (C2 Link); Loss of Voice Communications; Missed Approach; Missed Departure; Airborne Traffic Conflict; and Failure of the Automatic Landing System. The simulated flights were based out of the Rotterdam Airport (EHRD) with representative civil air traffic.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is acquiring SkyGuardian as part of its Protector RG Mk1 programme and is scheduled for first delivery in the early 2020s. The Government of Belgium has approved Belgian Defense to negotiate the acquisition of SkyGuardian to meet the nation’s RPA requirements. The aircraft is also being considered by the Australian Defence Force, who chose GA-ASI to supply an RPA system for Project Air 7003.
18 Jun 19. Surveillance and intelligence missions boosted by Thales’s mini-UAS.
- Thales is unveiling Spy’Ranger 550, a new addition to its range of mini Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) for tactical surveillance and intelligence.
- Deployable in just 20 minutes, the Spy’Ranger 550’s 50-kilometre range and five hours of autonomy, even under highly demanding temperature and altitude conditions, provide a decisive tactical advantage.
- Equipped with a state-of-the-art image chain, the system’s optronics payload will ultimately be deployable with other types of payloads to provide the intelligence that armed forces need at every decisive moment.
At a time when digital technologies are increasingly shaping the battlefield of the future, the need for armed forces to boost their intelligence-gathering capability is becoming ever more acute. For units deployed in the demanding conditions of the theater of operations, having the technology to gain an understanding of the terrain and the forces in the field is absolutely vital.
17 Jun 19. Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:KTOS), a leading National Security Solutions provider, announced today that Kratos’ XQ-58A Valkyrie completed another successful test/demonstration flight on June 11, 2019, at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. The XQ-58A demonstrator is a low-cost unmanned air vehicle (UAV) developed by Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on the Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator (LCASD) Program. During the latest flight, the vehicle successfully completed its test objectives during a 71-minute flight. The Valkyrie is a multi-mission, runway-independent UAS capable of long-range flights at high-subsonic speeds and a variety of applications.
The joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft.
Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, stated, “With this most recent milestone, the readiness of the XQ-58A is accelerating and increasing the near-term application opportunities for the system. I am extremely proud of our development, production, and test teams who continue to deliver successful results, in record time, on our comprehensive system level efforts—rare within the aerospace and defense industry. In addition, I appreciate the cooperative and team-based relationship Kratos has shared with AFRL in the development and demonstration of the Valkyrie.”
17 Jun 19. Airbus and the Hauts-de-France region today signed a framework partnership agreement to assess the economic development potential of air deliveries on a regional scale. This agreement was signed in the presence of Xavier Bertrand, President of the Hauts-de-France region, Antoine Bouvier, Head of Strategy at Airbus, Alain Storck, President of the Hauts-de-France regional innovation and development agency, Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus, David Taieb, President of the e-valley project, and Nicolas Askamp, CEO of Survey Copter. The Hauts-de-France region, through Hauts-de-France Innovation Development (HDFID), and Airbus Defence and Space, via its specialised subsidiary Survey Copter, already well known for its models of commercial drones certified for military use, are jointly conducting a feasibility study of this use within the framework of European regulations.
The Hauts-de-France region aims to become Europe’s logistics hub. In this context, the regional authorities are particularly supporting the creation of the ‘e-valley’ park, a logistics park dedicated to new e-commerce services, on the site of the former Cambrai airbase. For this activity, air delivery is obviously an innovative development focus.
This operational study, involving stakeholders from the region’s economic and academic ecosystem of logistics and retail activities, is therefore launched for six months to identify the needs of local economic operators as well as the technical concepts and solutions required to meet them, while taking stock of current and expected future regulations.
The shared ambition is to foster the deployment of new economic models in the Hauts-de-France region, based on the innovative use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), particularly to support disruptive changes in the supply chain dedicated both to industrial activities and distribution.
By studying what the future will hold for UAVs in Hauts-de-France, the region hopes to give companies the means to innovate in their services, expand their logistics activities and create new jobs as a result.
After spending several years developing autonomous air transport, this agreement is an opportunity for Airbus to boost its state-of-the-art presence in the market for professional civil UAVs certified for industrial use and to let French authorities benefit from the experience gained with its many demonstrators, and in particular in in coordination with the French civil aviation authority DGAC. DGAC plays a key role in the simultaneous and controlled development of economic, regulatory and technological frameworks and has, together with France’s civil UAV council, boosted powerful market dynamics since 2015.
Airbus subsidiary Survey Copter, the service provider selected by HDFID to conduct the ‘Drones in Hauts-de-France Experimentation’, will be providing its national and international know-how as a leading player in the field of mini-UAV systems. Through this experience, Survey Copter has gained extensive knowledge of the design of these systems and has full command of the safety of operations relating to the use of these technologies.
By participating in this feasibility study, Survey Copter is looking to increase its experience with UAV solutions used in urban or semi-urban environments and thus pave the way for the emergence of new urban mobility solutions.
17 Jun 19. Safran’s Patroller tactical drone undertakes qualification test flights. The Patroller tactical drone, developed and produced in France by Safran Electronics & Defense, has started the final phase of the industrial qualification at the Istres flight test center in southern France.
Patroller has already made more than 220 flights, clearly demonstrating that it meets all assigned criteria: automated takeoff and landing, mission execution, the simultaneous operation of its sensors in real time, the capabilities of its electro-optical and radar payloads, low noise levels, endurance, ease of use and availability. During these qualification flights, as well as in previous tests, the Patroller tactical drone has proven its ability to meet the challenges of today’s missions, by guaranteeing the French Army’s technological superiority in theaters of operation, while ensuring low operating costs. The SDT
The airframe features a modular design, enabling it to carry a multi-sensor intelligence payload of up to 250 kilograms (electro-optical, radar, electronic warfare), tailored to each type of mission. Patroller can carry out missions not only for armies, but also air forces, navies and homeland security forces. The Patroller will shortly participate in maritime surveillance operations as part of the European Commission’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) program.
The Patroller’s ground station handles multiple functions: mission planning and management, reconnaissance, location-determination, automatic target tracking, real-time intelligence data fusion and distribution, and onboard simulation for training exercises, all in compliance with the latest NATO standards. The Patroller tactical drone is one of the first systems of this type to be officially certified according to the NATO standard for this class of drone, STANAG 4671.
Reflecting Safran Electronics & Defense’s expertise in the key “observe, decide, guide” functions, the Patroller is largely made in France and also represents a stimulating industrial challenge. Safran Electronics & Defense’s plants in Montluçon, Dijon, Fougères, Eragny and Poitiers are all fully mobilized to rise to the challenge of the Patroller program, by leveraging their operational excellence to deliver this system on time. The first Patroller system in the French Army’s tactical drone system (SDT) program, which consists into five drones and two ground stations, will be delivered to the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) at the end of 2019.
17 Jun 19. Robonic delivers OHTO fourth-generation UAV launcher to Finnish Defense Forces. Robonic Ltd Oy, a Safran Electronics & Defense company, has delivered an OHTO fourthgeneration pneumatic launcher to the Finnish Defense Forces (FDF). The FDF already deploy Robonic’s KARHU small launchers and KONTIO third-generation launchers to launch their aerial target drones.
The fourth-generation OHTO launcher is a highly transportable universal launcher capable of handling a wide variety of target drones or tactical unmanned aerial vehicles. OHTO is designed to launch air vehicles weighing up to 150 kg with an exit velocity of 55 m/s. Fourth-generation OHTO and third-generation KONTIO launchers are operationally compatible, since they use the same adapters.
OHTO integrates advanced technologies for easier operation. For example, operators can get the launcher ready for another launch within minutes, from a safe distance. It also features softwarebased monitoring to give users extensive launch statistics and improve operator safety. Other outstanding features include an advanced design, aerospace-quality structure, built-in maintainability, tactical mobility and transportability, since it can be towed by an SUV or sling- loaded on an NH90-class helicopter.
“We are extremely proud of today’s delivery to the Finnish Defense Forces, which marks a major milestone in our long-term relationship with our key customer,” said Markku Viitala, Managing Director of Robonic. “With this new-generation launcher, FDF completes its launcher fleet and can optimize the use of third and fourth-generation launchers, resulting in higher efficiency”.
Drawing on three decades of experience and a global customer base, Robonic supports the evolving requirements of UAS manufacturers and end-users from around the world.
13 June 19. White House says America needs to make its own drones. President Donald Trump wants the Pentagon to start sweating the small stuff. Specifically, small unmanned aerial systems, broadly referred to as drones, and likely, more narrowly, the category of quadcopters.
Built by commercial and military providers alike, small drones are cheap, ubiquitous, and mostly made abroad. But a letter, sent this week from the White House to the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, notifies the committee chairs that the Pentagon will start doing more to acquire small drones.
“I transmit herewith notice of a shortfall in the defense industrial base relating to production capability for small unmanned aerial systems and of action to remedy that shortfall,” reads the letter. “The Department of Defense will take actions to develop and purchase equipment and materials needed for creating, maintaining, protecting, and expanding production capability for small unmanned aerial systems.”
The letter concludes “These proposed initiatives are essential to the national defense.”
This is not the first time the Trump administration has identified, and moved to address, a shortfall in the defense industrial base. In Oct. 2018, the Pentagon rolled out a long-promised report on the health of the industrial base, warning of “domestic extinction” for several key suppliers.
That report pledged to use all available legislative tools to try and address those gaps, including investing cash into struggling companies through the Defense Production Act, the law invoked by Trump this week. Earlier this year, the White House sent out a similar warning on sonobuoys, a key tool for the U.S. and its partners to track submarines.
The roughly 300 weak spots in the industrial base identified in that report report are a mix of sole-source suppliers who could disappear from the market; suppliers that have already decided to leave the defense market; and suppliers that are foreign-owned and could potentially pull the plug in a critical situation. Based on the U.S. drone market, the latter seems to be the issue here.
On first glance, it may sound surprising that there is a shortfall of drone manufacturers in the United States. After all, there have been decades of drone procurement and a fleet stretching from palm-sized Black Hornets to massive Global Hawks, it may sound a little surprising to find a shortfall in the drones on hand.
But the problem here is one of incorrect abundances. Built for the commercial and hobbyist market, retail quadcopters are priced between a few hundred and the low thousands of dollars, can carry a range of existing affordable commercial sensors, and are already in use with many military units as a cheap scout or inspection tool. The major limitation is that very little of the hobbyist quadcopter market is based in the United States, and both the Pentagon and Congress have expressed concerns about the data security of drones that receive software updates from and can transmit cloud data to servers in China.
Creating a new quadcopter, at similar price points and built to the data security needs of a military customer, likely requires direct intervention from the Pentagon itself. Given a choice between commercial off the shelf and made in the USA, the letter suggests military investment prioritize the latter. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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