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20 Aug 20. DOD Developing Small, Unmanned Aerial System for Warfighters. For the first time, the Defense Department and the entire federal government will have access to secure, trusted, and American-made commercial drones on the General Service Administration schedule, Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Kratsios announced at a virtual event hosted by the Defense Innovation Unit.
This new DIU initiative, dubbed Blue sUAS, is the culmination of 18 months of work by the Army and DIU to tailor the best technology from U.S. and allied companies to develop small unmanned aircraft systems that can be safely adopted by men and women in uniform. During the Aug. 18 DIU event, Kratsios said it also has important impacts for the nation’s broader economic and national security.
“UAS technologies have incredible promise and potential to not only provide great economic benefit for the American people, but also to enhance safety and security for our nation. We need a strong, secure domestic UAS manufacturing base to ensure American leadership in this critical field,” he said. “Blue sUAS represents a tremendous first step toward building a robust and trusted UAS domestic industrial base that ensures sustained delivery of highly-capable, secure UAS to the warfighters that depend on it.”
DOD recognizes the growing value and capabilities of sUAS, from providing on-demand intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities in contested battle spaces, to routine monitoring of critical infrastructure, to transporting products, he said. However, until now, the Department was not able to adopt these systems safely due to security and supply chain concerns posed by Chinese-made sUAS, he added.
Through the work of Blue sUAS, five U.S.-manufactured drone configurations will be made available to provide trusted and secure sUAS options to the military and U.S. government.
Blue sUAS also showcases how DOD partners with industry and allies to quickly pilot and scale cutting-edge technologies across the joint force and the other federal agencies.
Haven Wynne, General Services Administration supply chain management branch chief and program manager, said GSA is drawing up a 20-year contract, to include five-year options. He noted that the contract allows for the growth of additional accessories to be added to the platforms at a later time if required.
“Blue sUAS is a great example of DOD acquisition reform by lowering the barrier to entry for nontraditional companies to rapidly iterate shoulder to shoulder with warfighters to deliver highly capable sUAS tailored to mission needs,” Ellen M. Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said at DIU’s virtual event.
Chris O’Donnell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, platform and weapon portfolio manager, said that warfighter experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated the importance of small UASs to warfighters on the battlefield.
DOD awarded $13.4m to five companies to begin producing sUASs beginning next month: Vantage Robotics, Skydio, Parrot, Teal and Altavian.
According to DIU’s website, the sUASs will have a range of at least 3 kilometers, 30 minutes or more flying time, the ability to fly through rain and dust, assembly time of two minutes or less, a weight of under 3 pounds on takeoff, high-resolution day and night optics, thermal imaging, open source protocol architecture, and simple integration with ground controllers. (Source: US DoD)
20 Aug 20. The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a Department of Defense (DOD) organization that accelerates commercial technology for national defense, announced the availability of five U.S.-manufactured drone configurations to provide trusted, secure small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) options to the U.S. Government.
The announcement is the culmination of an 18-month effort with DIU’s initial work supporting the U.S. Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) program of record for sUAS. The SRR program is developing an inexpensive, rucksack-portable, vertical take-off and landing small unmanned aircraft that provides the small unit with a rapidly-deployed situational awareness tool.
Small drones have been widely available in consumer markets since the early 2010s and have notably been adopted by foreign military forces and non-state actors alike as inexpensive tools to gain a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield. However, until now, the DOD has not had the opportunity to adopt these systems safely. Recognizing the demand signal across the federal government for trusted and secure sUAS, DIU took the lead in developing systems that are broadly applicable to an array of users and mission sets. Coined Blue sUAS, this spinoff effort builds upon the Army’s initial success and offers sUAS that mirror the air vehicle and software architecture of SRR, but provides alternative ground controller and radio configurations to accommodate a variety of users across the federal government.
“Blue sUAS represents a tremendous first step toward building a robust and trusted UAS domestic industrial base that ensures sustained delivery of highly-capable, secure UAS to the warfighters that depend on it,” said Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of defense for research and engineering.
He added, “Blue sUAS showcases how we can both work with small, nontraditional companies and our allies and partners to quickly pilot cutting-edge technologies that support our mutual defense.”
Both SRR and Blue sUAS comply with Section 848 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 that prohibits operating or procuring unmanned aircraft systems manufactured in China. The five companies whose products will be made available for purchase on the GSA schedule by September 2020 include Altavian, Parrot, Skydio, Teal, and Vantage Robotics.
To this aim, the drones will be made available on the GSA schedule starting in September 2020 to ensure ease of procurement and to ensure availability government-wide. DOD entities can also pursue a production contract via Other Transaction Authority, leveraging the scaling option of DIU’s Commercial Solution Opening.
Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, added: “Blue sUAS is a great example of DOD acquisition reform by lowering the barrier to entry for non-traditional companies to rapidly iterate shoulder to shoulder with warfighters to deliver highly-capable sUAS tailored to mission needs.”
DIU seeks to build upon the success of the Blue sUAS effort by leveraging best in class commercial innovation on a regular cadence that ensures sustained technological dominance against our nation’s adversaries.
“We need an alternative to Chinese-made small drones and Blue sUAS is a first step in achieving that objective.” said Mike Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit. “Working across DOD and the U.S. government aggregates the business opportunity for these five vendors and enhances the long-term viability of this capability for the U.S. and our allies.”
About Defense Innovation Unit
The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) was started in August 2015 to rebuild the department’s relationship with the commercial technology sector. As one of the first “experimental” innovation organizations, DIU connects its DoD partners with leading commercial technology companies. DIU is the only DOD organization focused exclusively on fielding and scaling commercial technology across the U.S. military at commercial speeds. DIU is primarily focused on five technology areas where the commercial sector is operating at the leading edge: AI, autonomy, cyber, human systems, and space. Learn more about portfolios and projects at www.diu.mil. (Source: US DoD)
18 Aug 20. Multi-Mission Flexibility with the Iver™ Family of UUVs. To effectively operate across an increasingly complex maritime environment, naval forces must be equipped with flexible, modular and scalable technologies capable of supporting multiple mission sets. L3Harris’ lver4 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) was designed and developed with continuous feedback from the U.S. Navy to support these types of multi-mission requirements. Initially designed to support the operational requirements of submarines and explosive ordnance disposal teams, the UUV allows customers to achieve greater operational effects with a smaller platform, which is enabled through a series of distinguishing features common to the lver4.
Key Features of the Iver4 900 (9″ diameter)
> Rechargeable NiMH battery pack (standard), providing up to 20 hours run time
> Alternative power supplies include a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (~40 hours endurance), or aluminum-water power source (~80 hours)
> Modular, wet-mate sections, alternative payloads, including cameras, side scan, and synthetic aperture sonars as well as exchanging payloads for operators to quickly and easily swap with its no-tool design
> Open interface allowing customers to integrate specialized sensor payloads and software in line with operational requirements
> Without the need for external navigation aids, the Iver’s clean power architecture and low electro-magnetic interference delivers best in class Geo-location accuracy and clear target detection in complex bottom types
18 Aug 20. German Navy Starts At-Sea Tests of SKELDAR V-200. The German Navy (Deutsche Marine) has just started at-sea tests of the SKELDAR V200 vertical take off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aboard first-in-class K130 corvette “Braunschweig”.
Pictures shared on social media by the Commander of the German Naval Aviation show two Sea Falcon (the German Navy designation for the V-200) being lifted aboard the corvette, in Kiel.
The Commander explained on Twitter that “the tests are beginning, first on deck and then dynamically. It is making progress”.
For the record, UMS Skeldar won a contract back in August 2018 for the supply of a SKELDAR V-200 unmanned aircraft system consisting of two unmanned aerial vehicles as sensor carriers, integration of the system into the K130 corvette, a spare parts package and training of ship-borne operators and maintenance personnel. The contract was concluded with the main contractor Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH (ESG) and the subcontractors UMS SKELDAR and FR. Lürssen Werft GmbH & Co. KG.
Two V-200 “Sea Falcon” VTOL UAV on the helideck of German Navy’s corvette Braunschweig
The goal of the procurement contract is to supply a new, unmanned, airborne reconnaissance system for the German Navy specified by the Federal military procurement agency Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).
UMS Skeldar said at the time in a press release: “Provided ready for seaborne missions, with multiple payload options, the world-leading maritime rotary unmanned aerial system is suitable for C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) and SAR (Search and Rescue) roles. SKELDAR V-200 uses Jet A-1, JP5 and JP8, kerosene-based fuel (NATO code F-34, F-44).”
The same VTOL UAV was selected last month as part of the naval mine countermeasures capability replacement which will supply twelve mine hunters equipped with drone systems (Toolbox) to the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies. (Source: UAS VISION/Naval News)
16 Aug 20. THOR VTOL Completes Environmental Qualification Tests Ahead of Delivery of 1,000 Units. The THOR multi-rotor VTOL meets the requirements of MIL-STD-810.
– Elbit Systems’ THOR, a multi-rotor Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) mini Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), successfully completed a series of environmental qualification tests ahead of the delivery of more than a thousand of units to an army in Southeast Asia. As announced on October 6, 2019, the Company was awarded a $153m contract to provide a networked multi-layered UAS array to an army in Southeast Asia, including more than 1,000 THOR VTOL mini-UAS.
The environmental qualification tests measured the operational durability of the THOR VTOL mini-UAS under a range of extreme environmental conditions and its capability to withstand the physical stress requirements under the MIL-STD-810. The tests demonstrated the capability of THOR to maintain operability in temperatures varying from minus 40ºC up to 65ºC , withstand hard gusting rain and rough vibrations, and resist penetration and damage from blowing sand and dust.
The THOR VTOL mini-UAS is designed for surveillance and reconnaissance missions over land and at sea. Electrically propelled, THOR is capable of carrying up to three kg of payloads and has a flight duration capability of up to 75 minutes of operation, a maximal range of 10 kilometers and a flight ceiling of up to 2,000ft.
18 Aug 20. UK And Belgium Agree To Collaborate On Protector. The UK and Belgium have agreed a Bilateral Statement of Intent (SoI) to explore collaboration on the MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) which both nations are acquiring.
Known as Protector RG Mk1 in the UK, MQ-9B is the first RPAS to be designed, built and certified against stringent NATO and UK Safety Certification standards equivalent to piloted aircraft to allow flight in unsegregated civilian airspace.
The SoI was signed by Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, and Major General Frederik Vansina, Commander of the Belgian Air Component. Both parties will now focus on opportunities to work together on training, maintenance, logistic support, interoperability and capability enhancement.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston said: “This Statement of Intent between the UK and Belgium reflects our shared ambition for Protector, the MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, working in partnership to tackle threats to our national and collective security.
“The Royal Air Force and Belgian Air Force will explore opportunities to train, maintain and work together on this game changing aircraft using its cutting-edge sensors and systems to protect national, NATO and European security.
“The introduction of Protector MQ-9B reflects a step change in remotely piloted aircraft operations in Europe and worldwide. The Royal Air Force is delighted that the Belgian Air Force will stand beside us again on that historic journey.”
The UK is the lead customer for the capability. Last month Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced a contract to build the first three UK Protectors with an option for 13 more in due course.
Belgium is procuring four MQ-9Bs for its defence needs.
Major General Frederik Vansina said: “As the second Air Force acquiring this system, we are proud to join the United Kingdom in setting the first milestones towards interoperability between both our systems.
“Both our nations see great opportunity in developing strategic partnership and in doing so we will tackle shared challenges with greater strength on top of streamlining our Forces’ interoperability in employing this state-of-the-art asset.
“As other NATO Air Force’s join the United Kingdom and Belgium in acquiring this cutting-edge capability, which we will seamlessly integrate into densely navigated airspaces around the globe, I’m proud to announce today’s signing of our bi-national Statement of Intent. This is a first and important step toward the foundation of a reliable partnership between our Air Force’s involving key aspects in the development of this novel system.”
MQ-9B will make a significant contribution to the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities of both nations. (Source: News Now/https://www.raf.mod.uk/)
16 Aug 20. The UK is Spending Big on Migrant-Tracking Drones to Surveil the Seas.
- As media attention around the arrival of small groups of migrants on dinghies reaches fever pitch, a government contract offers a glimpse of the future
The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) awarded an Israeli defence company with a contract worth almost £1mi to demonstrate and develop unmanned aerial vehicles – or drones – to enhance coastal surveillance operations.
Elbit Systems UK, a subsidiary of Haifa-based Elbit Systems, was awarded the £990,000 contract in February 2020, but the contract summary was only published on a government website in July.
According to the Invitation to Tender, the MCA was looking to “assess the potential use of UAV to augment current and future aerial surveillance capability by reducing, enhancing or replacing existing delivery methods”. The contractor that secured the deal would have to work out and implement a flying programme to showcase how drones could be deployed in various scenarios – including search for missing people or vessels, surveillance, and search for a missing person both on the ground and at sea.
The UK has grown increasingly keen on using drones to keep watch on its coasts, as media attention around the arrival of small groups of migrants on dinghies on British coasts has reached fever pitch. The home secretary Priti Patel has called on France and the rest of the European Union to make sure that migrants do not try to sail to the UK.
“When the British people say they want to take back control of our borders – this is exactly what they mean,” Patel wrote in a tweet, conflating the Brexit referendum with the quite distinct issue of asylum seekers. The number of asylum seekers travelling by boat to the UK is small: last year, about 1,800 people made it to the country this way. Still, the number has been steadily increasing in recent years, prompting the government to look for technological solutions to stem it. Enter the drones.
In a statement published on the company’s website in February, Elbit Systems UK’s CEO Martin Fausset said that the company “look[ed] forward to providing the best possible support for the lifesaving work of the MCA”.
Fausset underlined that one of the drones involved in the scheme would be the Hermes 900, “a long-range maritime surveillance system tailored for littoral and blue water operations,” which “enables persistent monitoring of vast swathes of sea and long coastlines with effective advanced search capabilities.”
First introduced in 2012, the Hermes 900 has an endurance of over 30 hours, a feature that has made it popular in several countries – including the Philippines, Mexico, Iceland, and Switzerland among others. The Israeli Air Force started using Hermes 900 – pimped out with “specialist payloads” and rebranded “Star” – back in 2014. In late 2018, the European Union announced that it would deploy Elbit’s drones for maritime surveillance operations.
Both the MCA and the Home Office declined to comment on whether Hermes 900 drones are currently being used to monitor the UK coasts. Elbit Systems UK did not reply to a request for comment.
In January 2020, WIRED reported that a surveillance drone belonging to Portuguese company Tekever – which had recently signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence – was hovering for hours over the English Channel, in what appeared to be a patrolling operation.
Back then the Home Office declined to comment on the details of the operation, but stressed that the UK was working with France and other countries and resorting to technologies including drones to stem illegal crossings. Over the last few days, Tekever’s drone has kept flying twice a day over the English Channel, according to data by Flightradar24, a website that collects information about aircraft traffic. On one occasion, on August 4, Tekever’s drone criss-crossed the sea between Dover and Calais for over 21 hours.
More of this might be coming soon, since the MCA has made it clear that it plans to add more unmanned vehicles to its fleet, according to a BBC report from May 2020. That goes beyond the Elbit System programme. A tweet sent out from the Agency’s Twitter account on July 31 showed a MCA-liveried surveillance dronedesigned by Austrian company Schiebel flittering over North Wales in what the post described as “an operational evaluation”. (Source: ASD Network)
16 Aug 20. Royal Navy deploys experimental aircraft to warships after tests off coast of Cornwall. The new ‘Puma’ drone technology ‘marks a new phase in the technological development of aviation at sea.’
how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time. The Royal Navy is ready to deploy new experimental aircraft to its warships after successful test flights and training off the coast of Cornwall.
RNAS Culdrose at Helston is home to 700X Naval Air Squadron – an experimental test squadron in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm.
The Royal Navy say: “The ‘X’ in 700X stands for ‘experimental’ – and for good reason. The unit was formed to oversee the development and innovation of cutting-edge remote-piloted flight systems within the Royal Navy”
However, While 700X may be an experimental squadron, it is now ready to deploy its ‘Puma’ drone to warships.
And the Royal Navy has released a video of the drone in action, featuring aerial footage of Cornwall and dolphins playing in the Cornish sea. More pertinently, it also shows the drone carrying out surveillance of cargo ships.
A spokesperson said: “The Royal Navy’s experts in remotely-piloted air systems have created three new flights ready to deploy to sea.
“700X Naval Air Squadron is now ready to deploy on warships – marking a new phase in the technological development of aviation at sea.
“Having completed months of training on various systems, eight sailors at the squadron, based at RNAS Culdrose, have now come together to form the three flights, known as Phantom Flights A, B and C. One extra member will join the team later in the year. Each flight consists of a commander as well as an air engineering technician and naval airman who each serve as remote-pilots.
“The system they will take to sea is known as Puma can be launched directly from a ship. It consists of a light-weight airframe but has sophisticated cameras and flight system.
“Commander Tim Flatman, the commander of the fixed-wing force at Culdrose, handed over certificates to the members of the new flights on the completion of their training on Friday, August 14.”
Speaking to the assembled sailors, he said: “This represents the end of a lot of hard work by you all and you are now ready to take this capability to sea.
“It was just over a year ago that the gauntlet was laid down to send a deployable capability to sea. The fact that we are on the brink of achieving it despite the recent challenges is truly outstanding.
“You represent the vanguard of this new capability, which I have no doubt will expand over the coming years and I congratulate you all.”
Lieutenant Commander Justin Matthews, the commanding officer of 700X Naval Air Squadron, said: “It is great to be able to say that we have now completed the many months of training to take this remotely-piloted system to sea. We have two flights ready to deploy and a third to follow later in the year.
“This is all about Royal Navy sailors flying from Royal Navy ships. The instructors and everyone at the squadron should be really proud of what we have all achieved as we move forward with this new technology. This is a new and exciting chapter for the Royal Navy.”
700X squadron is based at RNAS Culdrose at Helson, Cornwall, and uses the nearby Predannack Airfield on the Lizard peninsula as a training ground.
(Source: News Now/https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/)
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