Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
05 Aug 20. UK Navy, MOD and Industry Experts Meet to Discuss Drone Operations. A fleet of modern autonomous and unmanned systems visited the flight deck os the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the HMS Princes of Wales. HMS Princes of Wales provided an impressive setting for the Future Maritime Aviation Force Accelerator Day this week, bringing together experts from the navy, MOD and industry to meet and discuss the vision for drone operations.
It comes as the navy seeks to develop and invest in the latest technology, bringing new, world-beating equipment to the frontline quicker.
Brigadier Dan Cheesman, Chief Technology Officer for the Royal Navy, co-hosted the event with Commodore Nick Walker, Deputy Director Naval Aviation, calling on attendees to consider how technology and innovation could transform the way the navy operates in the skies now and into the future.
The Future Maritime Aviation Force, Brig Cheesman said, was also about seeing how the Royal Navy could build-on and gain advantage from the pace of technological development already underway in the commercial sector.
“The aim is to transition rapidly from what we have now to whatever we want in the future.
“We live in an exponential world of technological change and if we can integrate the latest and get it on operations, it will deliver battle-winning advantage. Specifically, getting that technology onto ships like HMS Prince of Wales would be a game-changer.
“We are working in collaboration with companies like the ones here today to understand how they can help us move faster.”
Brig Cheesman added it should be the Royal Navy’s goal that these new capabilities should be delivered in weeks and months, not years and decades as is currently accepted.
The work of the Royal Navy’s NELSON digital acceleration lab supports this idea. They have continued the development the “plug in and play” MAPLE system that, when integrated onto Royal Navy ships, will simplify the process of accessing and using autonomous and un-crewed technology.
Trials earlier this year in Norway saw this system used on HMS Albion and last year on HMS Argyll. Going forward, all Royal Navy ships will possess open architecture, fully-networked, organic crewless aviation systems with Prince of Wales being at the forefront of a series of trials.
As previously announced by First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin, this will see the aircraft carrier being used as a testbed for un-crewed aerial vehicles.
Commodore Nick Walker, Deputy Director of Navy Aviation, supported the importance of the speed of introducing new technology. Speaking onboard HMS Prince of Wales, he said:
“When we have drones and other equipment routinely embarked on ships, that’s when we really start to understand what they can do and get an idea of what we can achieve.
“We have to do it safely, in the right way and coherently, but I want to see the type of kit on display today on frontline operations within the year.” (Source: UAS VISION/Defence Blog)
04 Aug 20. HAPSMobile Successfully Completes Fourth Test Flight. HAPSMobile Inc., a subsidiary of SoftBank Corp. and minority-owned by AeroVironment, Inc., has announced the fourth successful test flight of its “Sunglider” solar-powered high-altitude platform system (HAPS). The flight took place on July 23, 2020 (PT) at Spaceport America (“SpA”) in New Mexico.
With all basic aircraft tests for the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) now complete, HAPSMobile will proceed with preparations for stratospheric test flights.
In this test flight, Sunglider, the newly renamed UAS designed for stratospheric telecommunications platforms, reached altitudes higher than those of previous flights and maintained high altitudes for a long duration. Sunglider also successfully passed all test points, including flight speed changes, steep turns, automated flight control in the event of interrupted communications with the Ground Control System, and in-flight balance control.
In addition to the Hawaiian island of Lanai, HAPSMobile built a new test site at SpA as part of its mid- to long-term business plan. Since SpA offers flexibility in coordinating test flight schedules, there will be opportunities to conduct test flights with greater frequency and more freedom to conduct various types of tests. HAPSMobile also plans to conduct stratospheric test flights at SpA.
“We’re extremely pleased that we successfully completed all basic tests. The test flight validates the research results we have steadily accumulated, and the graceful flight at our new facility in Spaceport America has given us great confidence,” said Junichi Miyakawa, Representative Director & CTO of SoftBank Corp., and also President & CEO of HAPSMobile. “Based on our experience and learnings from these basic tests, I feel there are even greater possibilities for the HAPS business. We’ll continue to work toward our ultimate goal of bridging the world’s digital divide and revolutionizing mobile connectivity by leveraging the HAPS platform.” (Source: UAS VISION)
04 Aug 20. China reveals rare glimpse of Wind Shadow UAV. China has provided a rare display of the stealthy, turbofan-powered Feng Ying (Wind Shadow) medium/high-altitude long endurance (MALE/HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with new television footage of the air vehicle, jointly operated by the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) and its manufacturer Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), released by state broadcaster CCTV on 3 August.
According a statement released by the CMA on the same day, a “high-altitude weather monitoring UAV” that was specifically configured for meteorological observation missions with a millimetre-wave radar and wing-mounted podded dispensers for aerosondes launched from Bo’ao Airport in the southern province of Hainan just as tropical storm Sinlaku was passing on 2 August.
The CMA stated that the air vehicle cruised at an altitude of approximately 32,808 ft (10,000 m) and deployed 30 aerosondes at predetermined locations in the cloud system in the immediate vicinity of the storm, acquiring detailed air pressure, humidity, hydrometeor, temperature, wind direction, and speed data that was transmitted in real-time to the ground control station (GCS) at the airport.
The successful flight and meteorological measurement trial marks the latest milestone for the CMA’s Haiyan Project, which begun in 2018 with the aim of developing a UAV-based monitoring and forecasting solution that can offer precise on-demand meteorological data to support government and business activities. The project is a joint effort led by the CMA with support from other government agencies as well as state-owned and private firms including AVIC’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) subsidiary. (Source: Jane’s)
03 Aug 20. SpearUAV unveils ‘capsuled’ Ninox UAS. Israel’s SpearUAV has disclosed development of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)-based disruptive technology that could potentially revolutionise real-time battlefield and homeland security (HLS) situational awareness.
SpearUAV’s solution – variants of which are individually designated with the prefix ‘Ninox’ – is designed to deliver organic and immediate intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) tactical superiority for strategic, tactical, and micro-tactical missions.
“We believe we’ve overcome the challenge of delivering an immediate response to pop-up targets and near proximity threats on the battlefield,” Gadi Kuperman, CEO of SpearUAV, told Janes. “The individual soldier, ground or naval platform crew, or border security detail no longer needs to call up or co-ordinate UAS ISTAR support. There is no ‘deployment’ or ‘deployment time’ required – our technology is immediately accessible, it’s under their control and, crucially, the ISTAR capability is instantaneous. That’s the discriminator.”
Underpinning the development is SpearUAV’s hope that Ninox UASs could be regarded as standard battlefield equipment. Implicit in this is an affordability factor that enables a customer to acquire the systems in sufficient quantities. “We want the user to treat the drone the same way as he/she would any other piece of combat equipment or ammunition, such as a bullet or a grenade: it’s a battlefield tool, it’s ready and meant to be used at any time and without hesitation. And that could be for an infantry soldier or for land and naval platform crews,” said Kuperman.
The Ninox technology provides for a family of lightweight, modular, immediate-use, optionally recoverable UASs housed in ready-to-deploy and hermetically sealed programmable ‘smart’ capsules. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Aug 20. Duke Robotics TIKAD Combat Drone has Innovative Stabilization Technology. Duke Robotics introduces TIKAD, an innovative military UAS octocopter drone with a mounted lightweight firearm and advanced stabilization technology. TIKAD features a lightweight robotic gimbal with the unparalleled ability to carry and stabilize payload recoil up to three times its weight. In addition, TIKAD’s gimbal offers real-time, 6 DOF (degrees of freedom), a capability that provides an advantage to U.S. and allied forces in combat. TIKAD advances military strategy by integrating an aerial support system into combat missions. The UAS drone can engage with troops or lead precision strikes without the need for intrusive action. TIKAD can be used in various military applications including border patrol law enforcement, drone on drone warfare and counter terrorism. According to a recent report, Fortune Business projects the military drone market to reach $21.76bn by 2026, at a CAGR of 12.4% during the forecast period. The report says, “Advanced defense technologies, such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, multi-sensor data fusion for UAV navigation, cloud computing-based services for military UAVs, and technological advancements in drone payloads are expected to support the market growth during the forecast period. mid-air refueling of drone, and anti-UAV defense system are the major upcoming trends in the military drone market.” (Source: UAS VISION)
04 Aug 20. “Greek Army Buys Turkish Drones” – ‘Fake News’ says Greek Defence Ministry. Greece’s Defence Ministry categorically denied last week’s news report that the Greek Ministry of Defence had decided to buy 50 drones made by a Turkish company and even threatened Greek media who spread the fake news. On July 30th we published in good faith a story posted in a reputable mainstream Turkish newspaper, The Daily Sabah, which stated that ‘Turkish-made drones that are used primarily in search and rescue or mine detection operations are ready to enter Greek Armed Forces’ inventory with a signed preliminary agreement.’
Greek Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos went to Twitter to also reaffirm Greece’s denial.
“Leaks of rumours and false news coming from foreign mass media that claim the Greek Army intends to procure remote-controlled or unmanned aerial vehicles from Turkish manufacturers are categorically denied,” he said, adding a link with an official statement from the Greek Ministry of Defence.
“From the end of May, targeted leaks are made to foreign and Greek media, without, however, being confirmed or documented with data,” Greek Ministry of Defence statement said.
“Information circulating on the internet, especially from news websites, should be confirmed very carefully before being reproduced internally. This is required by the basic Rules of Journalistic Ethics, especially when it comes to sensitive issues related to the field of National Defence and Security,” the statement added.
“If this does not happen, then the Ministry of National Defence reserves all its legal right to deal with the spread of false news and influence public opinion, in accordance with Article 191 of the Criminal Code and Law 4619/19,” it concluded. (Source: UAS VISION/ Greek City Times)
31 Jul 20. KAL readies hybrid-powered UAVs for South Korean military. Korean Air (KAL) announced on 30 July that it had been contracted to supply an undisclosed number of hybrid-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prototypes to the government’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) for testing by the South Korean military.
KAL will be supplying its Hybrid Drone octocopter UAV for evaluation by military users. (Korean Air)
The prototypes will be assessed under the Vertical Take-off and Landing Coastguard Drone (Rotary Wing) category of DAPA’s Rapid Demonstration Acquisition Program, which seeks to exploit the agility which the private sector can bring in order to introduce mature products into the market and leverage these developments for government and military applications.
KAL has been developing its hybrid-powered octocopter UAV, which it calls the Hybrid Drone, since 2016 using internal research and development funding. The platform is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system that combines an internal combustion engine with electric motors, which it claims can offer an extended flight endurance of up to 2 hours compared to full-electric UAVs in the same weight class. The on-board battery also functions as a secondary power source should the engine fail, increasing the survivability of the UAV.
In addition, the air vehicle’s maximum flight altitude and speed was increased to 1,640 ft (500 m) and 72 km/h, respectively. It has also been designed for operation in temperature conditions of between -20°C and 45 °C.
The Hybrid Drone can carry an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor package that enables it to capture high-resolution imagery and transmit the data in real-time. (Source: Jane’s)
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