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UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE

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16 Oct 20. Bayraktar Akinci Completes Asymmetric Thrust Tests. The Bayraktar AKINCI TİHA’s flight tests continue. High and Medium Altitude Asymmetric Propulsion Test has also been successfully completed, according to official statements.

The second prototype of the Bayraktar AKINCI TİHA (Attack Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), developed by BAYKAR with domestic and national facilities, continues the flight tests successfully, while the third prototype counts the days for the first flight. AKINCI Prototype-2 TİHA, whose tests were continuing at Çorlu Airport Command, continued flight tests on August 22, 2020.

The second prototype of Bayraktar AKINCI TİHA was in the air for 20 hours and 6.1 minutes at an average altitude of 2 thousand feet (approximately 26 km) during the Medium Altitude System Verification Test flight. The tests of AKINCI TİHA are carried out with two prototypes. AKINCI PT-1 (Prototype 1.) sailed at an altitude of 30.000 feet within the scope of the High Altitude System Identification Test. The successfully completed flight took 3 hours and 22 minutes.

Akıncı TİHA to deploy in 2021

AKINCI TİHA, which will deploy in 2021, will have unique features in its class. in the examination of the TEKNOFEST Rocket Competition held in Salt Lake Turkey Technology Team Foundation (T3 Foundation) Chairman of the Board of Trustees and bikers Technical Director Selcuk Bayraktar, Baykur developed by the local and national facility Bayraktar Raiders offensive Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in 2021 He gave the good news that he will take office.

Bayraktar said:

“I hope Akıncı will take office in 2021. The second prototype is finished. We are currently producing its third prototype and its mass production product, Akıncı. Development activities continue. Qualification and test flights are currently underway. I hope it will be possible to start working after delivery in 2021. This is our goal. AKINCI has features that are not found in any unmanned aerial vehicle in its class.”  (Source: UAS VISION/Railly News)

15 Oct 20. US delivers fourth and final RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV to RoKAF. The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) has received the fourth and final Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) it ordered from the United States in 2014.

An official from South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) told Jane s on 15 October that the UAV arrived in the country in September.

The first UAV was reported to have arrived at Sacheon Air Base in South Gyeongsang Province on 23 December 2019. A few months later, on 19 April, Harry Harris, the US ambassador to South Korea, released an image showing the second UAV alongside the first one in a hangar at an undisclosed location.

It is still unclear when exactly the third UAV arrived in South Korea but, according to the Yonhap News Agency, three of the platforms had been delivered by June.

The RoKAF is believed to be operating the platforms from Sacheon Air Base as part of a recently established reconnaissance squadron.

The latest developments come after the US Department of State approved in July 2019 a potential USD950m Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of contractor logistics support and other services for the RoKAF’s Global Hawk fleet.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced at the time that the proposed sale also included programme management, minor modifications and upgrades, spare and repair/return parts, operational flight support, depot and organisational level maintenance, technical and logistics services, and other related elements of logistics and programme support. (Source: Jane’s)

16 Oct 20. Schiebel Pacific gears up for LAND 129, SEA 129 projects. The defence company is expanding its operations in preparation for the LAND 129 Phase 3 and SEA 129 Phase 5 projects. Schiebel Pacific has revealed that it is hiring remote pilots and maintenance technicians, and upgrading its facility in Yerriyong, NSW.

According to Schiebel, it is scaling up in preparation for its contribution to the LAND 129 Phase 3 Tactical Unmanned Air System (TUAS) project for the Australian Army, and the upcoming SEA 129 Phase 5 for the Royal Australian Navy.

However, the company is yet to be awarded with the LAND 129 Phase 3 TUAS contract, for which it is partnering with defence prime Raytheon Australia to produce CAMCOPTER S-100 UAS units.

Schiebel Pacific also aims to establish an in-country sovereign Australian training capability to deliver tailored training solutions for the Australian Defence Force’s requirements at land and sea. 15 Oct 20.

13 Oct 20. India’s Rustom-2 Completes 8-Hour Flight Test. Overcoming the initial program setbacks, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) last week flight tested the Rustom-2 medium altitude long endurance indigenous prototype drone and achieved eight hours of flying at an altitude of 16,000 feet at Chitradurga, Karnataka.

The prototype is expected to achieve a height of 26,000 feet and endurance of 18 hours by 2020 end.

Rustom-2 is capable of carrying different combinations of payloads depending on the mission objectives including synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence systems and situational awareness systems. It has a satellite communication link to relay situation in the battle theatre on real time basis.

“ The Rustom-2 had one hour of fuel left after eight hours of test flying at Challakere aeronautical test range in Chitradurga district of Karanataka and had achieved the test flight ceiling,” said a senior official.

While the DRDO expects Rustom-2 surveillance drone to match the specifications of the Israeli Heron unmanned aerial vehicle used by the Indian Air Force and Navy, it has revitalized its drone program with a new mission head and objectives. The push to Rustom-2 program was given after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tried to occupy Indian territory in Ladakh on the basis of a 1959 cartographical claim on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The PLA has Wing Loong II armed drones in its arsenal and has even given four of them to Pakistan to protect the CPEC corridor and Gwadar port.

Although the Rustom-2 will have to undergo test and user trials before inducted in the Indian military, the Ministry of Defence is currently negotiating with Israeli Aerospace Industry (IAI) to not only upgrade the existing fleet of Heron drone but also arm them with air to surface missile and laser guided bombs.

According to South Block officials, the technical upgrading and arming of Heron drone is at contract negotiating committee level after being cleared by the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC). The project will be cleared at the level of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

The Heron upgrade involves installing a satellite communication link so that there is no time gap in relaying situation on ground as well as installing hard points on the wings for missiles and laser guided bombs. While the Israelis have kept their armed drone program under cover, the Heron has a proven weaponized version.

Besides, India has also decided to go in for American MQ 9B armed drone instead of Sea Guardian surveillance drone with cost and numbers being worked out.  (Source: UAS VISION/Hindustan Times)

14 Oct 20. AUSA 2020: Bell developing new Autonomous Pod Transport platform with larger payload capacity. Bell is developing a new version of its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will carry nearly 43% more payload than the 32 kg-capacity APT 70.

Jim Ryan, Bell senior UAS sales and strategy manager focusing on APT, told Janes on 13 October during the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) trade show that the new APT aircraft will carry nearly 45 kg of payload. Bell expects to have this new APT platform at a technological readiness level (TRL) of 8 or greater and will have the first aircraft built by the end of 2021.

Bell’s APT 70 eVTOL UAS flying during a NASA demonstration on 28 September. Bell is building a new APT aircraft that will carry nearly 45 kg of payload. (Bell)

The new APT aircraft will keep the same relative size, form, fit, and function of the APT 70 at 1.8 m tall with a 2.75 m wingspan. Ryan said Bell wanted to keep the aircraft modular and easy for soldiers to carry. The APT platforms can be disassembled into five cases with the heaviest component weighing 26 kg. The APT aircraft also lacks a central fuselage with all avionics incorporated into the wings and the propulsion found in the vertical thrust modules.

Bell was originally looking to build an APT aircraft that could carry 181–227 kg of payload, but Ryan said the company wanted to keep the aircraft’s assembly simple.

“We work under what we call the two-person rule: Nothing in the design, operation, or the payload … is greater than a two-person lift,” Ryan said. (Source: Jane’s)

15 Oct 20. India Uncovers its Most Secretive ‘Stealth Drone’ Project.

One of India’s most ambitious aerospace projects known as the “Ghatak” translating to Lethal, has made a new surprise debut in a video released by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Kanpur) – the institution which has been working on the project for quite some time, EurAsian Times reported.

The DRDO’s “Ghatak”, or what was previously known as “AURA”, is probably the most secretive aircraft project of the Indian government, which is aimed to develop an unmanned stealth deep penetration strike bomber for the Indian Armed Forces (expectedly the IAF).

The design is based on the flying wing concept, which is a tailless and undefined fuselage concept.

The new appearance made was during a lecture on UAV aerodynamics shared about two weeks ago, and the craft is known as SWiFT (Stealth Wing Flying Testbed) and resembles the Ghatak UAV physically.

According to the sources, the image is the first appearance of Ghatak scaled-downed prototype with its undercarriage and landing gear.

In the video, more than one model of the flying wing SWiFT can be seen, and the institution is reportedly studying the viability of achieving lower radar cross-section and conducting wind-tunnel tests, making a crucial base for future Indian aircraft projects in the aviation sector.

The technologies associated with the project are expected to be 100% indigenously developed; however, controversies still prevail over the powerplant. In 2018, it was reported that the early prototypes would be powered by the Russian NPO Saturn 36MT turbofan engine.

It is expected that by the time Ghatak would be ready to fly, India would have successfully developed its own aircraft engine “Kaveri” and technologies associated with it. The engine will be developed in collaboration with French company Safran, which also came as an offset clause with the Rafale deal.

Other than IIT Kanpur, IIT-Bombay has also collaborated for the design and testing of the serpentine air intake duct (also known as S-duct inlet) for the engine.

The Ghatak is now a fully funded and sanctioned national defense project, and will likely see large-scale private sector participation going forward, given its many linkages with India’s AMCA fifth-generation stealth fighter program, told LiveFist. It also revealed the details of the connection between IIT Kanpur and the Ghatak project back in 2018.

Currently, various nations are working on the development of such aircraft with comparable roles of stealth bombing and reconnaissance, including the Russian Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik, which made its maiden flight in August 2019.

Similar projects also include the British BAE Systems Taranis, German/Spanish EADS Barracuda, American Boeing X-45 and Northrop Grumman X-47B, French Dassault nEUROn, Lockheed Martin’s RQ-170 and the Russian Mikoyan Skat. (Source: Al Defaiya)

13 Oct 20. Leonardo DRS to Manufacture Hoverfly’s Advanced Tethered UAS Products. Receives First Production Order for Company’s LiveSky Tethered UAS. Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Hoverfly Technologies Inc. (HTI) of Orlando, Florida to manufacture HTI’s line of Tethered Unmanned Aerial Systems (TUAS). The Leonardo DRS Land Systems business in St. Louis, Missouri has since received its first order from Hoverfly valued at over $4m.

Under terms of the agreement, Leonardo DRS will produce serial quantities of Hoverfly’s LiveSky™ TUAS system in support of its growing customer base, which includes the U.S. Department of Defense, the Departments of Homeland Security and Energy, allied defense forces, global industrial companies, and other domestic and international customers.  Leonardo DRS will also bring a wealth of platform integration and sensor payload development experience to Hoverfly’s products under the strategic business partnership to provide customers with fully integrated, TUAS-based communications, detection, and electronic surveillance capabilities.

Tethered UAS technology like Hoverfly’s LiveSky™ is revolutionizing the government and commercial markets for long-duration, small footprint aerial surveillance and long-range, secure communications.   By enabling continuous power and high-bandwidth data through a thin tether link, LiveSky™ can remain on-station in the air almost indefinitely, providing surveillance, targeting, and communications relay functions, while stationary or on-the-move, from vehicles or vessels.  Multiple US and allied government programs have recognized Hoverfly’s technology and are now incorporating TUAS capabilities in their requirements.

“As an innovative defense contractor, we strive to quickly identify and provide our customers with cutting edge technologies to give our warfighters the edge on the battlefield,” said Aaron Hankins, senior vice president and general manager of the Leonardo DRS Land Systems business. “We recognized Hoverfly as the leading tethered UAS technology company, and now we can help Hoverfly scale this capability across a wide and growing market.  This benefits our joint customers by providing accelerated yet reliable production to meet their always-challenging acquisition timelines and fielding schedules.”

Hoverfly CEO Robert Topping added, “We are thrilled to have Leonardo DRS as our production partner.  Rather than scaling capacity internally, now Hoverfly and our customers can rely on Leonardo DRS’s proven production quality and its exceptional level of experience in integrating complex systems across a wide variety of platforms and mission systems.”

08 Oct 20. Kittyhawk launches Air Control UTM/drone operations integrated flight management system. US UTM company Kittyhawk on 7 October announced the launch of its Air Control system dedicated to powering enterprise UAS operations at scale. According to CEO Jon Hegranes: “While our flagship applications that you can download for free on the app stores have grown to be the most widely used platform for everything from flight tracking to LAANC, we knew there was a new threshold that our enterprise customers need, and we set out to rebuild a new platform from the ground up with a singular focus on enterprise aviation use cases and the future of autonomy, compliance, and security. Air Control is what happens when you combine best in class compliance and fleet management with the leading suite of enterprise-driven UTM capabilities. Air Control builds on our hardware-agnostic approach to flight as you can now fly DJI and Parrot natively and securely in our custom flight experience, with more manufacturers and integrations in the works. Air Control adds new capabilities around autonomy with programmatic data capture and secure storage with new integrations for processing and analysis — from roof measurements to oil tank inspections.

“Air Control represents a shift in control and visibility to managers at mission control, with new role and permission management, workflow assignment, customized risk assessments, and enterprise LAANC capabilities for team applications and assignments. If you’re starting or currently managing a drone program, you’ve probably asked these questions… We know, because we’ve heard these over and over again across industries from insurance to energy, and from rail to utilities.

  • How do I know if the RPIC completed her preflight checklist before flight?
  • How do I know if the RPIC got her LAANC authorization before entering controlled airspace?
  • How do I know if the operation meets our unique risk thresholds?
  • How do I know if the assigned RPIC is current prior to the mission?
  • How do I know if the RPIC enabled live streaming?
  • How do I know if the RPIC is flying in a secure, approved application?
  • How do I know if the RPIC is flying the latest version of the automated flight plan?
  • How do I know if the flight plan is compliant per FAA and custom airspace rules?
  • How do I know what pilots are in the air right now?
  • How do I know if my UAS program is set up for long-term success — as measured by compliance, security, scale, and ROI?

“The team at Kittyhawk has been focused on building Air Control so that you can answer each of these questions with a few simple clicks. But we also know that a full slate of yes’s today is not the end game. You want a platform that’s built to evolve. We know that your use cases are only getting more complex. We know that your scale is only increasing. We know that your focus on security and privacy will continue to ratchet up.” (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)

13 Oct 20. Raytheon Australia announces regional S-100 manufacturing hub. Raytheon Australia has announced that the Shoalhaven region in New South Wales will become the “Asia-Pacific manufacturing and sustainment hub” for the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter unmanned aerial system (UAS) if the platform is selected to meet an Australian Army requirement under the Land 129 Phase 3 programme.

In a statement on 13 October, Raytheon Australia said the selection of Shoalhaven would look to leverage its regional profile and its partnerships with three companies based in the city of Nowra: Schiebel’s local subsidiary, Schiebel Pacific Limited; Air Affairs Australia; and Innovation Composites.

Raytheon Australia added that the establishment of the production centre “will see about AUD50m (USD36mi) injected into the local Shoalhaven economy over the life of the programme” if the S-100 is selected for the Land 129 Phase 3 contract.

In September Raytheon Australia said it had lined up partnerships with 10 local companies to support its bid. In addition to the three in Nowra, these include MMCLD (Sydney), Calytrix (Perth), Penten (Canberra), Varley (Newcastle), Sentient Vision (Melbourne), Rojone (Sydney), and Thomas Global (Sydney).

Earlier, the company also said its offering for the Land 129 Phase 3 programme will enable 150 jobs and “prioritised regional investments”. It added that the offering promotes local manufacturing, with the S-100 to be “assembled, and parts to be sourced and manufactured, in-country”. (Source: Jane’s)

09 Oct 20. Bangladesh to receive Wasp UASs. Bangladesh is set to field the AeroVironment RQ-12B All Environment (AE) Wasp small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS), with a sources sought notification issued by the US Army on 8 October. The request for information (RFI) is for an undisclosed number of systems for the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) SUAS, comprising hand-launched air vehicles and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) payloads, as well as ground control stations (GCSs) and an initial spares package. AeroVironment characterises a Wasp AE system as consisting of two air vehicles and a GCS.

As noted by the US Army, the RFI does not constitute a formal requirement at this stage, with a decision as to the type of contract and competition set to follow from an analysis of the responses. The RFI did not disclose an estimated contract value or a potential delivery timeline.

According to Janes All the World’s Aircraft: Unmanned, the Wasp AE is a micro UAS that incorporates special design considerations to facilitate maritime and land operations. The air vehicle is 0.76 m long, has a wingspan of 1.02 m, and is powered by a single low-acoustic electric motor, while the payload comprises a Mantis i22 AE EO/IR sensor. Guidance and control features include an autopilot that incorporates a digital datalink, autonomous functionality, and use of the GCS that is used with the Puma AE, Raven B, and Wasp III UAVs. (Source: Jane’s)

 

08 Oct 20. Wing Loong-2 Completes Communication Trials. The China-developed Wing Loong-2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has completed the country’s first large UAV-supported emergency communication exercise, announced its developer, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic). The Wing Loong-2 successfully completed the exercise mission, flying continuously for around 20 hours across three provinces, according to the Avic. This exercise verified the high reliability and adaptability of the Wing Loong-2 in complex environments, especially its communication support capability as a large unmanned aerial communications platform in extreme conditions, the Avic said.

In the early morning of Sept 29, the UAV took off from Anshun, in southwest China’s Guizhou province, and headed to Muli County, in Sichuan province, in the southwest of the country.

It successfully accomplished 20 hours of round-the-clock flight and communication support operations amid moderate rain and other adverse weather conditions. During the exercise, the Wing Loong-2 supported the communication provider China Mobile by tackling harsh communications challenges at simulated disaster sites featuring damaged roads, blackouts and network outages.

Indigenously developed by the Avic, Wing Loong-2 is a multi-purpose UAV platform with superb multi-sensor fusion capability, as well as stable performance and mature technologies. (Source: UAS VISION/The Star)

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