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08 Oct 20. Leonardo and RAF conduct trial of swarming drone concept. Leonardo has conducted a live trial of a swarming drone concept in collaboration with the British Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO). Leonardo has conducted a live trial of a swarming drone concept in collaboration with the British Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).
In the demonstration, several remotely piloted small aircraft equipped with electronic warfare jamming technology overwhelmed trial radars simulating enemy air defence systems.
This comes after the UK Ministry of Defence recognised the concept for swarming drones as a potential game-changer.
Leonardo and RCO worked with local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) Callen Lenz and Blue Bear for the development of this technology.
For the trial, Callen Lenz drones were equipped with a modified Leonardo BriteCloud decoy to create a jamming effect.
The decoy packages were particularly programmed to confuse ground-based radar systems representing the enemy air defence emplacement.
In a statement, Leonardo said: “A powerful demonstration was given, with the swarm of BriteCloud-equipped drones overwhelming the threat radar systems with electronic noise.
“The information gained from the demonstration will be used to inform potential future UK programmes to acquire an autonomous swarming drone capability.”
BriteCloud was originally developed as a self-contained digital radio frequency memory jammer for combat jets. It went into service with the RAF in 2018.
The technology is currently being evaluated by the US Armed Forces. It is also available for other UK allies.
In May, Boeing selected Leonardo and Thales to deliver a UK sovereign Defensive Aids System (DAS) to the British Royal Air Force.
The delivery is for five Boeing E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) MK1 aircraft. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
07 Oct 20. Xponential 2020: Ascent Aerosystems promotes cylindrical design of its Spirit sUAS. The cylindrical design of Ascent Aerosystems’ Spirit small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) makes it able to operate in all weather conditions with less weight than the quadcopter UAS, according to a company executive.
Ascent Aerosystems CEO Peter Fuchs told Janes on 5 October ahead of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Xponential trade show that the cylindrical design makes the aircraft easy to seal from weather with O-rings. Many quadcopters cannot fly in precipitation.
The Spirit is about 28 cm tall and roughly 11 cm in diameter. Fuchs said the Spirit’s compact nature and its cylindrical design makes it rugged enough to fly in austere conditions.
Cylinders, he said, add strength without adding a lot of weight, which is why the design is used for rockets. Fuchs said though rotor blades are fragile, the Spirit has crashed hard, but flown minutes later after replacing the blades.
Ascent Aerosystems has stripped out all the extra parts of the Spirit’s airframe. There are no extended arms holding motors, reducing the aircraft’s weight. The Spirit weighs 1.8 kg without battery or payload. The aircraft has a maximum operating weight of 6.1 kg, with 4.3 kg available for batteries and payloads. It also has a maximum operating altitude of greater than 14,600 feet.
The Spirit has two large coaxial rotors similar to those found on helicopters. Fuchs said this provides more than three times the lifting surface in a much smaller area compared to four small rotors as found on quadcopters. (Source: Jane’s)
07 Oct 20. SpearUAV expands its Ninox Family, Unveiling the Ninox 40 Handheld – a Revolutionary Encapsulated Drone System for Immediate Manual Launch. For the first time ever, immediate ISTAR capabilities are available to any soldier, law enforcement officer or homeland security personnel, independent of any other equipment. SpearUAV – an innovative company that develops and supplies unique UAS solutions for defense and HLS applications – is unveiling its handheld version of the Ninox 40 that was unveiled just two months ago. This revolutionary encapsulated drone system offers instant launch and provides immediate intelligence capabilities to any tactical unit, even if it is not equipped with a 40 mm grenade launcher or any other special equipment.
With its unique launching system, the Ninox40 Handheld can now provide advanced capabilities to various law enforcement agencies, such as police – for use in public safety and law & order applications, prison services – for management of any disorder or prison break attempt, border guards – for situational awareness and securing sensitive infrastructure, and more.
Like the Ninox 40 micro-tactical drone system, the Ninox 40 Handheld requires no deployment. The system comprises an encapsulated drone and control unit; when launched at high speed, the drone immediately unfolds and stabilizes in the air, with no operator intervention required.
Specifically designed for single-user operation and weighing under 250 g – within regulatory limitations – it is lightweight enough to be carried in the soldier’s vest during combat. Advantages include:
Mission flexibility – Ninox 40 Handheld systems can be carried by any number of users in a unit, according to mission requirements, delivering full ISTAR capability without being dependent on any other weapon or special equipment.
Safe and intuitive – the Ninox 40 Handheld is easy to use without any special training.
Ready for immediate use – the fully-ruggedized launch capsule can be carried in a vest or in a vehicle, or stored as is, remaining ready for immediate launch on the field during a mission, without any specific maintenance or preparations being required.
The Ninox 40 Handheld has a flight capacity of up to 40 minutes, extensive ISTAR capabilities, day and night camera for enhanced situational awareness, automatic tracking, and can be launched on the move and from under cover.
“The new Ninox 40 Handheld joins the Ninox family of unique capsule drones, all of which feature breakthrough technology developed in-house at SpearUAV, with the aim of changing the battlefield and giving ground forces advanced and immediate capabilities,” says Gadi Kuperman, Founder and CEO of SpearUAV. “This is the first drone in the world to be manually launched from a capsule, giving both combat soldiers HLS forces and law enforcement personnel situational awareness in a matter of seconds, for any mission in the field. We continue to develop the system to meet the specific needs of our customers, and new versions are already undergoing field testing.”
Founded in 2017, Spear is a privately-owned defense and HLS company. Coming from civilian and military backgrounds, the company’s team combines expertise in areas such as drones, aerospace, AI, software, communications and more.
Applying project-based technical know-how and cross-forces operational experience to emerging commercial technology, Spear delivers immediate tactical superiority on today’s chaotic battlefield. Used by military, government and civilian organizations around the globe, its broad range of solutions is currently disrupting the world of unmanned aerial systems.
Spear is a certified sole supplier to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and is looking to expand its global customer base by offering tailored solutions based on its unmatched capability.
06 Oct 20. Singapore begins sea acceptance test of coastal defence unmanned surface vessels. Singapore has begun sea acceptance tests of coastal defence unmanned surface vessels (USVs), which will eventually be deployed to undertake maritime patrol duties along the Singapore Strait.
The Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics-built vessels, which were seen conducting trials in waters off western Singapore, are destined to take over selected operations currently shouldered by the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN’s) Fearless-class patrol vessels and Independence-class littoral mission vessels (LMVs).
“This will allow our manned warships, like the LMVs, to be deployed at further ranges from Singapore and more strategically for complex missions”, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a March 2018 statement, where first mention of the coastal defence USV was made.
Images of the USVs indicate that the vessels have been built with largely similar physical characteristics as the mine countermeasure (MCM) variants, which have been developed earlier under a partnership between the RSN and the country’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and DSO National Laboratories.
The coastal defence USV has an overall length of approximately 16 m, an overall beam of about 5 m, and displaces approximately 30 tonnes. It has top speeds in excess of 25 kt and an endurance of more than 36 hours. It will be equipped with strobe lights, sirens, and “advanced sensors and weapons systems”, said MINDEF in its 2018 statement, although further details on these have yet to be disclosed.
In a further statement prepared for Janes on 6 October, MINDEF described the sea acceptance tests as a process to assess the USV’s autonomy and functionality. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Oct 20. UMS SKELDAR performs first automatic flight of V-150 VTOL platform. Major milestone achieved by UMS SKELDAR enabling an exciting future of remote flight demonstrations. Europe’s leading provider of Rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms, UMS SKELDAR, has successfully achieved the remote automatic flight of its V-150 Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) platform. A world’s first, this is a major milestone for both the company and the platform.The successful automatic flight of the V-150 has been performed across multiple continents, with the platform itself based in Switzerland and observed by team members onsite. This breakthrough achievement enables UMS SKELDAR to provide remote product demonstrations to prospective customers across the globe and give attendees the opportunity to fully test the system without leaving their base. In the current climate of continued travel restrictions, this is of maximum value.
David Willems, VP Business Development and Strategy for UMS SKELDAR, said: “This development will open new doors for UMS SKELDAR as it enables us to provide cost-effective demonstrations to customer prospects who otherwise would not be able to experience a live flight of the system”.
To enable this technology to become a reality, the existing software within the V-150 has been enhanced to make it fully automatic and to allow a person not present at the Remote Pilot Station (RPS) to safely and remotely control the UA/RPA from thousands of kilometres away
UMS SKELDAR’s flight demonstrations can incorporate a wide variety of mission simulation scenarios. The demonstrations will also provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations remotely to the customer, with applications in search and rescue, border patrol, energy, and military sectors.
Willems explains further: “Unlike other demonstration capabilities, we are not just presenting the customer with the chance to take-off and go in circles. Instead, the V-150 will perform a simulated mission with various events taking place in the background. This is exciting because we are advancing traditional flight demonstrations and incorporating many new elements that will maximise the customer experience, even from thousands of kilometres away.”
05 Oct 20. Georgian Defense Ministry Purchases Spanish Drones. The Ministry of Defense of Georgia reported on September 28 that it purchased Spanish-made unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as renewed existing aircraft, and retrained the personnel.
“Acquisition and renovation of the unmanned aerial vehicles will reinforce Georgia’s defense capabilities substantially,” the Ministry underscored.
According to the same report, Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili visited the Marneuli Air Base, where he inspected the new aerial systems and attended the demonstration flights.
The Sniper Unnamed Aerial Vehicle (the Alpha 800 UAV), one of the models purchased by the Ministry, has recently been in a center of controversy after the Spanish manufacturer complained about it being gifted by Israeli officials to Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev in November 2016. Spanish side claimed this amounted to the transfer of sensitive technologies. (Source: UAS VISION/civil.ge)
05 Oct 20. USN Establishes First Carrier-Based MQ-25 Stingray Squadron. Effective October 1st, the U.S. Navy has officially established the first squadron that will operate its future MQ-25 Stingray carrier-based unmanned tankers from Boeing. The service does not expect to begin test flying more refined MQ-25 prototypes from actual carriers until the end of next year, at the earliest.
As such, this unit will be focused in the meantime on training personnel to be as ready as possible to operate and maintain those drones when they begin arriving in the coming years.
The Navy first began the formal processing of standing up Unmanned Carrier Launched Multi-Role Squadron 10, abbreviated VUQ-10, in August, according to an official internal notice. That document says the official establishment date is Oct. 1, 2020, and that the unit is located at Naval Base Ventura Country in California, which includes Naval Air Station Point Mugu. A detachment of Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 (VUP-19), the Navy’s first MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance drone unit, also calls Point Mugu home.
The notice also says that VUQ-10 is assigned to the Navy’s Airborne Command & Control Logistics Wing (ACCLOGWING), which presently oversees the service’s E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound fleets. The Wing’s website already says that it is involved in the Stingray drone program through the MQ-25 Fleet Integration Team (FIT).
From ACCLOGWING, the rest of VUQ-10’s chain of command then goes first to Naval Air Forces Pacific and then U.S. Pacific Fleet. This appears to be purely for administrative purposes. The Navy has said in the past that the Nimitz-class carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS George H.W. Bush, both of which are homeported in Norfolk, Virginia on the East Coast of the United States, would be the first to receive the necessary equipment to operate the MQ-25s.
VUQ-10’s official role will be as the so-called Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) for the MQ-25, making it responsible for training crews to operate the drones, as well as ground personnel to maintain them. Standing up the FRS now will “allow personnel time to attain advanced qualifications ahead of aircraft delivery,” according to the Navy notice.
That being said, depending on the overall size of the MQ-25 fleet, initially, detachments from VUQ-10 may also have an operational role. “To conduct, through self-sustaining detachments, long-range aerial refueling support to joint force maritime component commanders, carrier strike groups, and naval task forces as directed by numbered fleet commanders,” is the unit’s official mission, per the official document regarding its establishment.
It seems likely that the squadron will also be heavily involved in the development of new tactics, techniques, and procedures around the operation of the drones and their place in the Navy’s future carrier air wings. Being based at Point Mugu would give the unit easy access to the Navy’s expansive training off the coast of Southern California, where carriers and other vessels, as well as the service’s own aircraft and those from other branches of the U.S. military, regularly train.
The Navy has said that it expects to buy at least 72 Stingrays, for a total cost of around $13bn, and that it hopes to reach initial operational capability with the type in 2024. At present, Boeing is under contract to build four Engineering Development Model (EDM) prototypes, the first of which it hopes to deliver next year. For more than a year now, the company has already been conducting various ground and flight tests using a demonstrator drone, known as T1.
The primary mission of the Stingrays will be to providing aerial refuelling support to carrier air wings, a role presently filled by F/A-18E/F Super Hornets carrying buddy refuelling stores. The MQ-25 will allow those manned fighter jets to focus on other missions and otherwise reducing the strain on those aircraft. The drones are also expected to significantly increase the overall reach of the carrier’s fixed wing strike aircraft.
There is already discussion, however, about using these unmanned aircraft in other roles beyond tanking, including for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The Navy has also said that it expects drones, including designs beyond the MQ-25, to become an increasingly larger and more important part of carrier air wings in the future. VUQ-10 will play an important role in laying the groundwork for future unmanned operations from carrier decks, broadly.
The squadron, and the personnel that will be assigned to it, now looks set to blaze the trail for the MQ-25s, as well as subsequent carrier-based unmanned aircraft, which are set to fundamentally change the character of the Navy’s future carrier air wings. (Source: UAS VISION/The Drive)
01 Oct 20. Bell APT 70 completes BVLOS demonstration flight with Xwing detect and avoid system. Bell Textron reports successful completion of a flight using its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) 70 as part a joint flight demonstration with NASA. Bell was selected to participate in NASA’s Systems Integration and Operationalization (SIO) activity in 2018, which includes multiple flight demonstrations focusing on different types of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and their flight environments.
The objective of Bell’s SIO demonstration was to execute a Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) mission in an urban environment transitioning into and out of Class B airspace representing future commercial flights. Mission results will be used to evaluate and demonstrate Detect and Avoid (DAA) and Command and Control (C2) technologies for use in future certified operations in controlled and uncontrolled airspace. Data collected during the demonstration will be used to support future standards development and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification guidelines.
Launching from Bell’s Floyd Carlson field in Fort Worth, TX, the APT 70 flew a pre-programmed 10-mile circuit path along the Trinity River. Once armed from the ground control station, the APT 70 initiated a vertical take-off. The vehicle then rotated to fly on its wings where it became nearly silent to the ground below. The vehicle executed its mission profile at an altitude of 500 feet above ground level. The route included a road crossing and transition in and out of Class B airspace.
Communication between the ground station and the aircraft was maintained through a redundant datalink. A prototype airborne detect and avoid system, along with visual observers, provided the remote pilot with awareness of air traffic in the vicinity and recommended flight manoeuvres.
Bell’s technology partners for the demonstration include Xwing and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). Integrated onto the APT 70 is Xwing’s airborne, multi-sensing detect and avoid system. Xwing’s system comprises of radars, ADS-B, visual system and onboard processing to provide aircraft tracks and pilot alerts transmitted to the ground station. The APT 70 also includes CASA’s intuitive, integrated display to provide pilots with local weather risk awareness and route-based weather alerts issued by their City Warn Hazard Notification System deployed in the DFW metroplex.
It is envisioned that in the future, an operational APT 70 could provide efficient, rapid and dependable transport for payloads up to 70lbs. The APT 70 is estimated to move three times as fast as ground transportation. The vehicle is capable of autonomous flight, automatically flying a programmed flight route and handling an array of contingency functions. Potential uses for the APT 70 include medical deliveries, third-party logistics, offshore delivery, and humanitarian relief.
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05 Oct 20. Queensland to Assemble Boeing’s First Australian-designed, developed Unmanned Aircraft. Queensland is poised to take another bold step in aerospace and advanced manufacturing with an historic opportunity to be the final production home for unmanned defence aircraft – the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a visionary new partnership with Boeing Australia means more high-skilled jobs, local supply opportunities and defence industry stimulus as Queensland continues to recover and grow from the COVID downturn.
“The creation of additional new aerospace capability could see unmanned defence aircraft produced here by the middle of the decade, with prototype testing and certification taking place before that,” the premier said.
“We are carrying out our plan to recover and grow, including into new industries, and it’s very important that we do that not just as a government but with key partnerships.
“Our investment in this advanced manufacturing project will provide critical skills for suppliers, academia and Boeing, and culminate in Queensland becoming the primary final assembly facility for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, conditional on orders.
“Supporting this project is a significant investment in the Queensland defence and manufacturing industries and will strengthen ties between Australia and the global defence market.
“The unmanned teaming aircraft is Boeing’s first military aircraft to be designed and developed outside the U.S and uses artificial intelligence to extend the capabilities of manned and unmanned platforms.”
The first aircraft prototype, called the Loyal Wingman, was unveiled with the Royal Australian Air Force in May this year.
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the Boeing partnership demonstrated the Palaszczuk government’s commitment to advanced manufacturing.
“Manufacturing is a vital part of the Queensland economy, which is why supporting manufacturing is one of the centrepieces of our Unite and Recover Economic Recovery Plan,” the treasurer said.
“Our government’s longstanding commitment to advanced manufacturing is one of the reasons Queensland is already home to Boeing’s largest workforce outside the United States.
“Boeing has 1,700 staff in Queensland and supports 400 Queensland-based suppliers.
“Loyal Wingman will mean even more highly skilled advanced manufacturing jobs, further reinforcing Queensland’s status as a centre for defence industries.
“It was precisely to attract projects like this that the Palaszczuk government developed our 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan for Defence Industries. Today is proof that plan is delivering for Queensland.”
Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific President Brendan Nelson said the partnership with the Queensland government to develop an advanced manufacturing capability was a significant milestone for the company.
“It’s one that will build cutting-edge skills to stimulate the innovation ecosystem in Queensland,” he said.
“This includes introducing technologies such as advanced robotics; investment in universities, small-to-medium enterprises and start-up companies; as well as creating global export opportunities for Australia’s supply chain.
“This investment could unlock global defence and aerospace opportunities for Queensland to gain future work share in other Boeing programs.”
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