Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
21 Nov 19. Italian Reaper Crashes in Libya. The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) lost an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over Libya on 20 November, the country’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed.
The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper came down while flying over southern Tripoli. While the Libyan National Army (LNA) claimed to have shot the UAV down, posing with the wreckage in images posted on social media channels, the Italian MoD said only that ‘contract had been lost’ with the unarmed aircraft while it was supporting Operation ‘Mare Sicuro’ (Safe Sea), a counter-terrorism mission.
Prior to this loss, the AMI had fielded six MQ-9 Reapers (Predator B) and seven RQ-1 Predator UAVs. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Nov 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) successfully ferried the first of five NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft, via a non-stop, 22-hour transatlantic flight. The aircraft took off on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from Palmdale, California and landed approximately 22 hours later on Nov. 21 at Sigonella Air Base, Sigonella, Italy.
“Northrop Grumman is proud to support NATO in its mission to protect and defend global security, while maintaining a position of collective deterrence for the Alliance,” said Brian Chappel, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. “NATO missions will be enhanced by the strategic surveillance capability NATO AGS provides.”
The NATO AGS RQ-4D aircraft is based on the U.S. Air Force wide area surveillance Global Hawk. It has been uniquely adapted to NATO requirements and will provide NATO state-of-the-art intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. This includes protecting ground troops, civilian populations and international borders in peacetime, times of conflict and for humanitarian missions during natural disasters.
Aircraft, ground and support segments, along with advanced sensor technologies including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program radar, comprise the NATO AGS system.
The NATO AGS aircraft has met the rigorous standards required for the first large unmanned aerial vehicle, military type certification, approved by the Italian Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA).
Companies from across NATO’s member nations, including Leonardo, Airbus and Kongsberg, comprise the Northrop Grumman-led industry team that developed the NATO AGS capability.
20 Nov 19. Leonardo launches Skydweller HAPS. Italy’s Leonardo has taken a minority stake in Spanish/US firm Skydweller, which is developing a solar-powered high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) system. Speaking to media at the 2019 Dubai Airshow, Leonardo executives said the company has been working on the project for over a year, which has culminated in the firm becoming the key technology partner and lead financial investor with the acquisition of a equity stake in the firm.
According to Skydweller’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer Sébastien Renouard, the company has raised USD26m at its launch, with 50 engineers already working on the programme. Of these staff, the company has brought in engineers from organisations such as Northrop Grumman’s Special Projects group to facilities in Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha in Spain to form an international consortium.
The Skydweller is being developed from the Solar Impulse solar-powered aircraft, with Skydweller acquiring the intellectual property and aircraft for further development in September 2019. The Skydweller system will be able to leverage the 1,250 flight hours that already exist on the Solar Impulse platform and investment in excess of USD190m that had been raised by the Solar Impulse Foundation to develop the aircraft.
Leonardo’s undisclosed financial commitment to the firm will come in two tranches, with the first tranche being paid at the critical design review and being followed by the second tranche after the aircraft successfully passes the first phase.
John Parkes, Skydweller co-founder and chief scientific officer, said the Solar Impulse’s key limiting factor had been the pilot, due to endurance and life support requirements.
“Once you remove that pilot, you have plenty of space for applications including geospatial mapping, telecommunications, and ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance],” Parkes said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Nov 19. Bell performs first APT 70 UAV flight with a payload. Bell on 16 October performed the first flight of its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) 70 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a payload.
The aircraft flew with a 27.2 kg payload, company spokesperson Felicia Votta said on 20 November. The APT 70 flew vertically, transitioned to aircraft flight where it achieved speeds of over 61 knots, flew waypoints, then returned to hover and land at its destination.
Bell said in an 18 November statement that it has planned an APT 70 test flight with a 31.8 kg payload, the aircraft’s maximum capacity. Votta said the APT 70 is powered by four electric motors that can vector their thrust.
The demonstration was in response to the PMA-263 Tactical Resupply Unmanned Aircraft Services (TRUAS) Challenge, a US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) prize challenge to provide an autonomous aerial delivery capability for the US Marine Corps (USMC) for field user evaluation.
PMA-263’s small Unmanned Logistics Support-Air (ULS-A) effort seeks prototypes that can transport at least 27.2 kg of cargo in various configurations commonly found in company, platoon, or squad resupply operations. These include a 19 litre water can, ammunition can or case, or a meal-ready-to-eat (MRE) case.
NAVAIR wants the aircraft to fly a 10 km radius and return unburdened to the launch site via automated launch, waypoint navigation, and automated landing. The prize challenge will consist of two phases.
The first phase will be a formal invitation to participate in the fly-off competition planned for January 2020 in Yuma, Arizona, based on applications received. The second phase will be actual participation in the fly-off, demonstrating the vendor’s prototype capabilities and ability to meet requirements. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Nov 19. ‘Vulnerable’ $130m US spy drones to be scrapped. Two thirds of America’s high-altitude Global Hawk drones may be scrapped after one was shot down by Iran. The unarmed spy drone has been the Pentagon’s top long-range craft for 18 years, providing high-resolution photographs from up to 60,000ft above the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Asia-Pacific region and North Africa. Each one costs $130m. Its future was put into doubt when an Iranian missile brought one down in June.
Tehran claimed that the drone was in its airspace, which was disputed by America. The strike by a relatively standard missile forced the Pentagon to reappraise the craft’s vulnerability.
The review comes as the US defence department switches its focus from counterterrorism to the threats posed by Russia and China.
Officials told Foreign Policy magazine that air force chiefs had proposed cutting 21 of the 35 drones. They said that the measure was included in a budget submission to Mark Esper, the defence secretary.
The Global Hawk has been considered for the scrapheap before, as has the U-2 spy plane. Both survived after protests from Congress.
With a wingspan of 131ft, the Global Hawk is twice the size of the Predator and Reaper military drones. The device has a range of about 14,000 miles and can stay in the air for 32 hours.
With China and Russia developing more advanced missiles, the Pentagon is looking at surveillance systems that work at a higher altitude. The aerospace company Northrop Grumman has designed a system, the RQ-180, with technology to evade enemy radar. The latest unmanned aircraft has a wingspan of 172ft, according to Aviation Week. (Source: The Times)
20 Nov 19. Grenade launching drone will be part of Army exercise in 2020. With a body like a scorpion, a drone named Cerberus flies. The tricopter is a slightly unusual form in the world of drones. It’s stark bilateral symmetry is a deviation from quadcopters or multirotors. It is angled with a purpose and its body is drawn like a crossbow that reveals its true purpose. Between the forward rotors and beneath the long tail, the Cerberus drone reveals its truest purpose: it is a frame for a weapon, a platform in need of a gun.
Developed by Skyborne technologies, the Cerberus GL is specifically designed to compete in the loitering munition space. As a category, armed small drones can offer a backpack-sized burst of airpower, an explosion remotely directed into a building or a vehicle or a human being. Loitering munitions, like the backpackable Switchblade, tend to be single shot, operating as piloted missiles.
With a range of payloads, the Cerberus GL could carry a single bomb, or mount a 12-gauge shotgun, or as the name suggests, mount a grenade launcher and three 40mm grenades.
“Infantry platoons that come under medium-range fire (e.g. machine gun or mortar) require immediate precision-strike air support,” read the description of the platform in the manual of participating technologies for Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments 2020. “Cerberus GL expands on the capability of small loitering munitions by enabling multiple shots, the ability to perform battle damage assessment and to return to the user for reloading.”
The Cerberus GL is one of a host of tools and weapons selected for the exercise, to be put on by the Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning in 2020.
As futuristic as it sounds, the Cerberus GL, and similar drones more generally, are catching up to a capacity that insurgent and irregular forces have had for years. Commercial drones are cheap and plentiful enough that quadcopters dropping grenades, using shuttlecocks for stabilization, were part of ISIS’s arsenal in the Battle of Mosul.
What professional adaption brings is novelty and iterative design, but the category was fundamentally one borne of improvised weaponry. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
19 Nov 19. Turkish Army to Get Kamikaze Drones with Facial Recognition. Thirty upgraded KARGU (Autonomous Tactical Multi-Rotor Attack UAV) kamikaze drones developed by Turkish defense contractor Defense Technologies Engineering and Trade Inc. (STM) will join the Turkish Armed Forces’ inventory as of 2020 to take part in critical operations in the country’s east and along the Syrian border.
The KARGU battle drone, which was developed by the STM to support the tactical and field needs of Turkish security forces, eliminates targets more efficiently with new features such as enhanced ammo capacity and improved accuracy. The 30 drones will also have the capacity to destroy an entire brigade and warship.
STM General Director Murat Ikinci said that the previous drones they developed had offered Turkey great military power, but the newest upgrade would take the Turkish military to the next level. He added that the KARGU drone was far superior to its current competitors on the market, the Turkish daily Hürriyet reported.
Ikinci noted that while each drone within the squadron has a specific mission, “if one of them is attacked or malfunctions during the operation, the other KARGUs will be able to replace it and perform the preset mission.”
Stating that all the drones within the squadron have artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition systems, Ikinci elaborated on the drones’ properties:
“The drones are less than 70 kilograms each. They can also carry explosives and various equipment. They have a range of 15 kilometers. They can stay in the air for 30 minutes with explosives.”
As a rotary-wing drone, the KARGU can carry various types of explosives, playing an efficient role in asymmetric warfare and the fight against terrorists.
The STM has been serving Turkey’s defense industry in the fields of engineering, technology, and consultancy for more than a quarter-century. The firm works on naval and air platforms, cyber-security, big data, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence to satisfy the needs of Turkey and other allied nations. With $564.8m in revenue, the company ranked 85th in Defense News Top 100 defense companies in the world. (Source: UAS VISION/Daily Sabah)
20 Nov 19. Silent Arrow Gets USSOCOM Development Contract. Yates Electrospace Corporation has announced the signing of a development contract (USSOCOM-SOF AT&L-ST-14-01-JS79) with the U.S. Special Operations Command entitled “Silent Arrow Airdrop Development”.
Silent Arrow is the world’s first production-ready, 1-ton, autonomous cargo aircraft, which delivers up to 1,631 pounds (740 kg) of supplies at less than half the cost of JPADS with more than double the glide ratio, dramatically improved landing accuracy, zero vertical impact force and with far greater stealth.
Under the contract, USSOCOM will provide access to aircraft, test ranges and subject matter experts to establish the airworthiness and performance of Silent Arrow for resupplying tactical teams within a hostile environment, resupplying forward operating bases, and delivering critical humanitarian aid and disaster relief without the need to land or place USSOCOM aircrew in harm’s way.
USSOCOM developmental efforts under the contract are being led primarily by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), with additional operational requirements coming from the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) for Silent Arrow applications for rotorcraft and other specialized tactical support.
“This latest contract further validates the U.S. Government’s desire to close capability gaps with innovative commercial solutions from fast-acting companies,” said Yates Electrospace Corporation CEO Chip Yates. “We are currently working with our AFSOC partners to conduct several airdrops of the Silent Arrow GD-2000 from various aircraft at medium altitudes in the February-March 2020 timeframe, and at high altitudes (25,000 feet MSL) in April-May 2020.”
Designed for logistical support for both military and relief operations, Silent Arrow’s tightly integrated packaging with spring-deployed wings transported inside the fuselage, high standoff distance and low cost have led to expanded military contracts with the U.S. and allied foreign government Special Operators, as well as international aerospace & defense companies. Silent Arrow is designed for fixed-wing and rotorcraft deployment of critically needed supplies, cargo and fuel under austere operating conditions and timelines.
Specification highlights of the USSOCOM Silent Arrow GD-2000 include:
- Gross Weight: 2,000lbs (907 kg)
- Cargo Weight: 1,631lbs (740 kg)
- Cargo Volume: 26cu/ft (.75 cu/m)
- Glide Ratio: 8.4:1
- Stall Speed @1,000 lbs: 62kts, @2,000 lbs: 92kts
- Standoff: 40 miles
- Logistics: 28ft wingspan (4 spring-deployed wings) stowed in 2ft x 2ft x 8ft fuselage
In support of this contract, YEC is conducting additional flight testing in civilian airspace (Pendleton UAS Test Range, Pendleton Oregon) from rotorcraft sling-load and fixed-wing aircraft with deployment altitudes from as low as 1,000 feet AGL up to 5,000 feet AGL. (Source: UAS VISION)
21 Nov 19. Qld government to establish $14.5m drone testing facility in Cloncurry. The Queensland government has committed to building a $14.5m commercial drone flight testing facility at Cloncurry Airport, which may be used by Boeing to test its Loyal Wingman platform.
Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk said the announcement was a key part of government’s strategy to support a diverse economy in the north west and create more jobs for locals.
“This facility will create 65 jobs during construction and bring ongoing benefits to the region,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“It’s just one of 13 innovative diversification initiatives that tap into the potential of the north west, and further proof that by working together with local councils and the community, we can grow Queensland’s economy.”
Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said construction of the new facility is scheduled to begin early 2020.
“The Palaszczuk government is creating more jobs in more industries, bringing world-class, cutting-edge aerospace technology to the Queensland outback,” Minister Dick said.
“Our government was the first in Australia to launch a drone strategy, and now we’re well on the way to becoming the nation’s drone technology capital.
“We have secured the world’s largest aerospace group, the Boeing Company, to be the first to conduct trials at the facility, creating an exciting new aerospace industry for the region.”
Boeing director of Phantom Works International Shane Arnott said the company is looking forward to using the flight facility in 2020 to safely and securely test the latest advances in unmanned systems technology.
“The creation of what will be one of the world’s largest commercial unmanned flight test facilities is critical to establishing Australia as a global leader in autonomous technology,” Dr Arnott said.
The announcement comes at that the same time as Boeing completed its first autonomous teamed flights.
Boeing took to Twitter to announce that it had “successfully achieved first autonomous teamed flights using high-performance jets as test beds and Australian-developed mission systems technology”, as well as accompanying vision of the testing.
While the actual Loyal Wingman platform is still yet to be tested, it’s expected that first test flights will take place next year.
While stopping short of confirming that the platform would be tested at the Cloncurry facility, Boeing provided Defence Connect with a statement.
“We aren’t in a position to confirm where the Loyal Wingman will be flight tested,” the statement said. “However, Boeing would see strong potential in the Queensland government’s facility accommodating a range of aircraft sizes in the future.”
The Cloncurry facility will be able to make test flights over short distances of up to 25 kilometres along a designated flight path away from built-up areas. (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Nov 19. Boeing Test Flies Surrogate Drones for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Program. Boeing announced that its Australian subsidiary has used systems developed in that country to enable a pair of unmanned, subscale, jet-powered test aircraft to conduct a semi-autonomous teamed flight for the very first time.
This is part of the development of the Airpower Teaming System for the Royal Australian Air Force, which centered around a stealthy “loyal wingman” drone intended to work together with that service’s manned platforms, including its F-35A Joint Strike Fighters.
They successfully achieved our first autonomous teamed flights using high-performance jets as test beds and Australian-developed missions systems technology. Flying at speeds of up to 300km/h, the team tested the jets’ abilities to safely communicate and coordinate with each other.
In future, they will try more complex manoeuvres, increasing teaming formation numbers and more complex missions. (Source: UAS VISION/ Facebook; The Drive)
19 Nov 19. General Atomics to Add SparrowHawk Attritable Drone. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is developing a new attritable jet-powered unmanned air vehicle (UAV). Called SparrowHawk, it is intended to be air-launched from and air-recoverable by the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) MQ-9 Reaper. The company has built one prototype so far, which could be flown for the first time before the end of 2020, depending on funding, says Chris Pehrson, vice-president of strategic development for Department of Defense customers with General Atomics. The small UAV could be available for purchase by customers in 2021, he adds.
The SparrowHawk weighs about 91kg (200lb), can carry a payload of about 13.6kg and would have a 174nm (322km) range, says General Atomics. The company declines to reveal the aircraft’s turbine engine manufacturer or thrust rating.
Although it is being developed with the MQ-9 in mind, General Atomics says it is not a programme of record with the USAF. Instead, the development effort is being funded with internal research and development money. The SparrowHawk is a spin-off from the company’s failed bid for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Gremlins programme, which was won by Dynetics. The DARPA activity is an effort to develop a UAV that can be launched from a Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transport, flown on a reconnaissance mission and then return to the aircraft to be recovered in flight.
General Atomics declines to say if the SparrowHawk could be refuelled and relaunched after being captured in flight by the MQ-9.
“I’ll just say, in general, I think there’s an advantage to having a small [UAV] being able to be air refuelled,” says Pehrson. “Especially when you have a mothership that can stay airborne for 40h.”
“We do see this as a market opportunity,” says Pehrson. “And we think this is a very important mission space.”
General Atomics sees “synergy” between small attritable UAVs and its legacy aircraft, such as the MQ-1C and MQ-9. It plans to leverage its existing infrastructures of ground control stations and data networks – improved with the addition of more automation and artificial intelligence – to ease the introduction of attritable UAVs.
The company is developing a family of attritable aircraft, including so-called air-launched effects: UAVs that are carried and deployed from a mothership aircraft to be used in a variety of roles, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, loitering munition, anti-radiation missile or electronic warfare applications.
“One MQ-9 can be persistent at the outer envelope of the threat airspace,” says Pehrson. “And, when the situation dictates, that [UAV] could drop off all their small [UAVs] that can go on and do a mission; to either serve as decoys for other penetrating aircraft, or provide electronic warfare capabilities to open up a corridor for other aircraft that may be trying to penetrate the hostile airspace.”
The mothership could provide a support role by relaying communications or triangulating the location of threats, he adds.
The US Army has designated the MQ-1C as a chosen platform to carry air-launched effects (top picture), in addition to the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, as well as the forthcoming Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft and Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft.
General Atomics is upgrading the Gray Eagle Extended Range (ER) variant to be able to carry air-launched effects and loitering munitions. The MQ-1C can carry 20 loitering munitions in five pods beneath its wings and centreline, according to a rendering released by the company in October.
General Atomics will not say how many attritable UAVs or air-launched effects it is developing. It also declines to share a picture or rendering of the SparrowHawk. However, at the Association of the US Army convention in October it displayed two renderings of “notional” air-launched effects on board the Gray Eagle ER. The manufacturer notes that the air-launched effect rendering does not represent a US Army programme of record.
As it enters the attritable UAV industry, General Atomics is competing against a field of manufacturers who already have contracts with government customers, such as Boeing, Dynetics and Kratos. Despite this, the company believes it has found an opening in the market.
“We think that there’s a sweet spot, a knee in the curve, where you can have a more survivable small [UAV], but maybe not as expensive as a very exquisite system – with the same or better probability of accomplishing the mission that you want to do,” says Pehrson.
Finding this spot will depend on the company’s ability to build its UAVs with an open architecture and modularity, he says. That would allow the US military to remove expensive sensors and payloads before it sends attritable UAVs on dangerous missions.
“We want to give the customers options. We want to have a low-cost truck; a truck that’s reconfigurable and modular,” says Pehrson. “If you really want to throw out large numbers of them, the platform itself would be relatively cheap and you just don’t put an expensive payload in it.”
General Atomics is designing its attritable UAVs using open architecture standards such as the US Army’s Future Airborne Capability Environment, the USAF’s Universal Command and Control Interface and the US Department of Defense (DoD) Modular Systems Architecture Standards.
“We’ve invested a lot of R&D into making our platforms and the payloads we developed into open systems,” says Pehrson.
Ultimately, the goal would be to give the DoD flexibility.
“I think the key is just providing options to the customers and quantifying that cost, so that when you design it you can articulate what the cost would be to do certain missions or certain [concepts of operations],” he says. (Source: UAS VISION/FlightGlobal)
19 Nov 19. Elbit Systems is launching MAGNI, a fully autonomous and robust Multi-Rotor Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) that is designed to significantly enhance the situational awareness capabilities of mobile forces. Compact and light-weight (2.5kg) MAGNI enables rapid deployment and launch (in less than 1 minute) from any combat vehicle transforming it to an effective intelligence gathering platform.
The MAGNI system includes a thermal payload, a communications suite (dual S-Band or LTE), an automatic coordinate tracking capability as well as a built-in interface with Battle Management Systems (BMS). Carrying up to 350gr of payloads it offers a range of up to 3km, a maximum operational altitude of 4000ft and 30 minutes of endurance. Operated by a single user MAGNI enables vehicle mounted forces to generate beyond-the-hill visual intelligence during day and night, and seamlessly feed target information to command and control systems. Its unique Size Weight and Power (SWaP) parameters make MAGNI well suited for squad, platoon and company levels.
MAGNI is the third multi-rotor VTOL UAS offered by Elbit Systems which includes also the 10kg THOR Multi-Rotor VTOL mini-UAS and the 5 kg NOX VTOL Micro-UAS.
20 Nov 19. China Shows Armed Rotary-Wing UAS. China’s CATIC/AVIC (Pavilion A41-42) is showing a full-scale mock-up of the U8EW rotary-wing unmanned air system (RWUAS) at the Dubai Airshow (Static S8). The type was first shown in the West in model form at the 2018 Singapore airshow.
The vehicle was developed by the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI) and is manufactured by Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC). The original U-8E RWUAS design has been around for some time and spawned a series of derivatives under the “AV” series. The U8EW is an armed version and the mockup is displayed with a pair of 35-pound (16-kg) TL-2 missiles carried on outrigger pylons. The TL-2 has been fired successfully from the Wing Loong 2 fixed-wing UAS and has a range of around 3.7 miles (6 km).
With a maximum takeoff weight of 1,100 pounds, the U8EW can carry a payload of 330 pounds. A range of sensors is available, including synthetic aperture radar and signals intelligence systems. The mockup on show has an electro-optic turret for reconnaissance and targeting. As well as guided missiles, the U8EW can carry machine gun pods.
Operating completely autonomously, the U8EW has an eight-hour endurance on reconnaissance missions, a figure that drops to six hours when carrying weapons. The system can be deployed and launched in 30 minutes. (Source: UAS VISION/AIN Online)
18 Nov 19. ADASI, SwissDrones in UAE sales agreement. UAE firm ADASI has entered an agreement with Switzerland’s SwissDrones, allowing it to integrate payloads on the Swiss firm’s SDO-50V2 drone. The deal will also give ADASI exclusive sales rights for the SDO-50V2 in the UAE, the two companies say in a joint statement.
ADASI is a unit of UAE defence and aerospace conglomerate Edge. It is envisaged that the SDO-5V2 will serve in a surveying role in sectors such as oil and gas and infrastructure.
“We are delighted to enter into this partnership with SwissDrones, and to be able to exclusively promote the small drone within the UAE,” says Ali Al Yafei, chief executive of ADASI.
“We see this as an opportunity to continue employing the latest technologies to give our customers the edge, and ensure that our partners excel in their field.” (Source: Google/FlightGlobal)
18 Nov 19. New details emerge about MHI’s CoasTitan system. Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has revealed more details about its CoasTitan coastal surveillance and security system.
Officials told Jane’s at the DSEI Japan 2019 defence exhibition in Chiba on the 18-20 November that this large-area, integrated surveillance network of sensors deployed from unmanned aerial, surface, and underwater vehicles (UAVs, USVs, and UUVs), as well as coastal facilities, is not only meant for use by private operators but also by the Japan Coast Guard and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
One of the elements of CoasTitan is a commercially off-the-shelf vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV, which can vary according to the customer’s requirements. It is fitted with a MHI-developed autonomous control algorithm that enable the platform, which can also be operated from surface vessels, to conduct entire operations autonomously, including surveillance, tracking, data collection, and transmission, as well as take offs and landings.
The MHI-developed artificial intelligence (AI) technology also enables quick image recognition and identification, said the company.
At DSEI Japan 2019 MHI displayed a UAV that is currently being tested by the Japan Coast Guard as part of CoasTitan. The platform, the designation of which has yet to be announced, is about 2 m long and 80 cm wide, and has an endurance of up two hours.
Another element of the system is a lithium-ion battery-powered UUV developed by MHI that can be fitted with several different sensors, including GPS antennas and sonar systems, depending on customer requirements. Called Naminow, the 2.7m-long UUV can operate at depths of up to 200m and has an endurance of up to 8 hours, according to company officials. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Nov 19. Iris Automation and Kansas DOT Complete BVLOS Flight. The Kansas Department of Transportation’s (KDOT) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) has successfully completed the first beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operation using only onboard detect-and-avoid systems.
The flight mark the first time under Part 107 the FAA has authorized an operation to fly BVLOS without a requirement for visual observers or a ground-based radar. The FAA’s approval for the flight was granted based on the utilization of Iris Automation’s detect-and-avoid system, called Casia, which provides commercial drones with automated collision avoidance manoeuvres. The nine-mile flight was conducted by a fixed-wing drone and allowed a Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus team and Iris Automation flight team to inspect power lines in collaboration with the state’s largest energy provider, Evergy, Inc. In the first two days of flights, the team completed more than 150 miles BVLOS.
Historically, all FAA-issued Part 107 BVLOS waivers have required visual observers or ground-based radar. These mitigations limit the possibility of true BVLOS flights, as they are typically prohibitively expensive and limit operations to pre-defined corridor areas with radar coverage.
This approval is the first of its kind for long line linear infrastructure and is the first step to enable routine commercial infrastructure inspection across the state.
“This program supports the President’s commitment to foster technological innovation that will be a catalyst for ideas that have the potential to change our day-to-day lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The milestone operation is the collaborative effort of the 31-member Kansas UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) team efforts to advance drone technologies, and includes K-State Polytechnic, Evergy, Iris Automation and KDOT.
“This marks the first true BVLOS flight in the nation and is a tremendous milestone for the drone industry,” said Iris Automation CEO Alexander Harmsen. “We see this as one of the most notable accomplishments to come from the IPP program to date. We’re thrilled to set the precedent and bring our industry’s utilization of drones from dream to reality.”
The Iris Automation Casia system is a turnkey solution that detects, tracks and classifies other aircraft and makes intelligent decisions about the threat they may pose to the vehicle. It then triggers automated maneuvers to avoid collisions, and alerts the pilot in command of the mission. The tool is being used by customers globally, including in regulatory programs around the world.
“We are excited to be a part of this team of UAS pioneers,” said Kurt J. Carraway, UAS Executive Director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at K-State Polytechnic. “The hard work of this team creates a gateway for utility companies such as Evergy to create efficiencies in transmission line inspections using unmanned aircraft. We look forward to leveraging this opportunity to document safe operations of this nature, which will lead to creating state-wide access to this technology.” (Source: UAS VISION)
15 Nov 19. Camcopter S-100 UAV completes integration on board French LHD. France’s Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) procurement agency has qualified the integration of Schiebel’s S-100 Camcopter rotary-wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) on board the French Navy’s Mistral-class amphibious assault (LHD) ship Dixmude. The S-100 UAV is now fully integrated into the ship’s combat management system (CMS), the DGA announced on 13 November. Modifications to the amphibious helicopter carrier include installation of new antennas and wiring for the UAS control system, the establishment of a UAS maintenance space in the hangar, and a dedicated fuelling station for the S-100 on the flight deck. In addition, a dedicated work station has been set up in the ship’s combat information centre. Images captured by the S-100’s MX-10 sensor can now be displayed on various screens in different parts of the vessel. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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