Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
17 Mar 21. LEMUR Drone Designed for SWAT Teams. Drone Nerds, a North American drone distributor, has partnered with American drone company, BRINC Drones, to help bring to market one of the most revolutionary tactical tools ever built. The BRINC Drones LEMUR is designed to help SWAT teams locate, isolate, and communicate with suspects. A ruggedized and durable composition combined with an easy-to-use payload bay allows the LEMUR to break glass, scale stairs, conduct two-way communications with a suspect, and flip over after crashes. The LEMUR’s novel battery technology is based on lithium-ion chemistry and allows for 31 minutes of flight time with up to 10 hours of perch time.
Built to be flown first-person view (FPV), the LEMUR has a modular high definition RGB camera, built-in night vision, and IR illuminators to ensure operations run smoothly in the most demanding indoor environments.
“Drone Nerds is the largest provider of enterprise-class drones in North America. One of our larger segments is public safety. For years, we have searched for a UAV solution to enable SWAT teams to respond more quickly, more effectively, and without risk of life. This is finally the solution we have been looking for. The BRINC Drones LEMUR is the first drone that can quite literally save and protect lives, and we’re proud to help bring it to market,” says Drone Nerds CEO Jeremy Schneiderman.
“We are extremely excited to be working with Drone Nerds, and we believe their experience and history of working with public safety departments will help us get the LEMUR into the hands of as many SWAT teams as possible. The LEMUR is a novel product that was built in conjunction with the Las Vegas Metro SWAT team and has a feature set unlike any other indoor tactical drone in the world. We as a company are thrilled to be working with the team at Drone Nerds and are looking forward to a successful partnership.” says BRINC Drones Founder and CEO Blake Resnick.
The benefits of the LEMUR include its ability to:
- Breach structures
- Effectively locate suspects anywhere (including inside homes, skyscrapers, and buses)
- Facilitate two-way communication between crisis negotiators and suspects (Source: UAS VISION)
16 Mar 21. Royal Malaysian Navy Launches ScanEagle Squadron. The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) established the 601st Unmanned Aerial System Squadron on March 4, 2021, operating the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle UAS from its base at Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. It is the RMN’s first unit dedicated to unmanned aerial systems.
The launching ceremony was officiated by Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Mohd Reza Mohd Sany, while Senior Defence Attache for Malaysia at the United States (US) Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Captain Muhammad Muzzafar Feroze Khan was also present.
Mohd Reza said in the first year, the UAS will be operated on land as a training phase for operators to master the system before being placed on RMN ships.
According to First Admiral Ahmad Shafirudin, commander of the Naval Air of the RMN, the squadron will acquire capability and knowledge for UAS operations and support for the RMN and Malaysia’s joint forces.
The RMN has already received six aircraft from Insitu Boeing as part of an order for a total of 12 systems, announced by the U.S. Department of Defense on May 31, 2019 under of the Foreign Military Sales program, and part of the U.S. government’s Maritime Security Initiative. The remaining six ScanEagles are to be delivered by 2022. The value of the contract is $19.3m. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. That contract also announced systems for Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.
At that time, the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur issued a statement saying, “These UAVs will enhance the Royal Malaysian Navy’s ability to defend the country’s territorial integrity.”
The contract also included two pneumatic launchers, two SkyHook UAS retrieval systems, two ground control units, as well as spare payloads, spare and repair parts, support equipment, tools, training and maintenance technical services, and field service representatives.
The RMN intends to initially operate the systems from land with a mobile detachment concept, but eventually they could be hosted aboard ships.
The 601 squadron will be located at RMN Naval Base at Kota Kinabalu in Sabah on the northern part of the island of Borneo, in East Malaysia. There are several reasons the squadron will be located in East Malaysia. Unmanned air operations in Western Malaysia are complicated by the more complex and crowded airspace. More importantly, RMN officials acknowledge a more pressing need for maritime ISR across Malaysia’s eastern maritime border, where there is a current threat of non-state-sponsored militant activities.
Malaysia’s chief of navy, Adm. Tan Sri Mohd Reza bin Mohd Sany, participated in the event. U.S. Defense Attaché Capt. Muzzafar Khan, who attended the official handover ceremony, said,
“For over 60 years the U.S. and Malaysia have shared a productive and mutually beneficial security cooperation partnership, and I am glad to see that continuing today.” (Source: UAS VISION/Bernama; Sea Power)
16 Mar 21. Turkey’s Akıncı Completes System Identification Test. The second prototype of Turkey’s state-of-the-art unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) Akıncı has successfully passed another test, the manufacturer announced.
“Today, we successfully completed the Developed System Identification Test with #AKINCI PT-2,” Baykar Makina said on Twitter.
“Each successfully completed test brings #AKINCI one step closer to the mission. Free and independent in our sky,” the company noted.
Baykar’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Selçuk Bayraktar also shared the visuals of the latest test on his Twitter account.
“It may have gotten used to it, but our excitement, the adrenaline, the stress is just like on the first day,” Bayraktar said.
The second prototype completed its first test flight in August at the Çorlu Airport Base Command, in northwestern Tekirdağ province.
The CTO last month said the company would soon begin mass production of the domestically made UCAV.
Akıncı is expected to enter the Turkish security forces’ inventory this year.
The drone can fly for 24 hours and has a service ceiling of 40,000 feet (12,192 meters), a 20-meter wingspan and the capacity to carry a load of 1,350 kilograms (2,976 pounds).
Akıncı is equipped with the locally-made active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and air-to-air missiles Gökdoğan and Bozdoğan, and can launch several types of locally made ammo, such as standoff missiles (SOM). (Source: UAS VISION/The Daily Sabah)
15 Mar 21. Australia to Co-Develop Additional Three Loyal Wingman Aircraft with Boeing. The Australian government announced that it has agreed with Boeing Australia to co-develop a further three Loyal Wingman aircraft to advance the air-teaming vehicle, payloads and associated support and training capabilities. The agreement will increase the aircraft’s production capability to six aircraft for Royal Australian Air Force and is valued at $115m over three years. The Loyal Wingman is the first military combat aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.
“The Australian government’s continued investment in the innovative Loyal Wingman program will create jobs and opportunities for over 35 Australian suppliers and small businesses, including BAE Systems Australia, RUAG Australia, AME Systems and Ferra Engineering,”
said Dr. Brendan Nelson, president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific.
The contract will support the maturation of the aircraft design, evolution of current and future payloads, and create the sustainment system for the aircraft in operations. It will also advance Airpower Teaming System advanced concepts through digital testing and demonstration.
“In addition to progressing the air vehicle design and support system, we will further develop the aircraft’s mission system including advanced AI decision-making capabilities and new payloads,”
said Dr. Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
“Continued digital engineering and significantly expanded live testing of the system will provide RAAF and Boeing with the ability to jointly take the concept to the next level, activities that are critical for us to rapidly understand how the Airpower Teaming System can be employed in the future battlespace.” (Source: UAS VISION)
15 Mar 21. Korea Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems to Cooperate on Next-Gen UAS Solution for ISTAR Missions. The Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) and Elbit Systems Ltd. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expand cooperation in the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The cooperation will address potential UAS programs for the Korean Defense Forces, as well as additional global customers. The companies will cooperate to develop the next generation UAS solutions for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions, based on both companies’ technological experience in the unmanned field.
Elbit Systems is a leading UAS manufacturer with a portfolio of more than 10 different unmanned platforms from tactical-drones up to 1.5 ton Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAS (MALE). Elbit Systems’ UAS are in operational service for decades and have been selected by more than 30 different customers in five continents, among them Israel, the UK, Switzerland, Canada, France, Brazil, Chile and others.
Korea Aerospace Industries has been taking a leading role in the Korean national aerospace industry with successful development of the KT-1 and T-50 Trainers, KUH-1 and LAH/LCH Helicopters, KFX Fighter (on-going), and satellites and space launch vehicles. KAI is also the pioneer in the Korean national UAS industry by developing the tactical UAS for the Korean Defense Forces.
12 Mar 21. Should Australia opt-in to the Orca program? Defence should consider procuring unmanned Boeing-built ‘Orcas’ to shore-up Navy’s undersea warfare capability ahead of the delivery of the Attack Class submarines, according to one analyst.
The Commonwealth government’s $80bn SEA 1000 (Future Submarines) program has come under intense scrutiny over the past few years.
Observers have accused the government of concealing a cost blow-out, with the program initially valued at $50bn.
Critics have also questioned the delivery timeline, with all 12 Attack Class submarines — ordered to replace the ageing Collins Class fleet — not expected to be fully-operational until 2054.
Additionally, a cloud looms over the level of Australian defence industry participation in the program, with reports suggesting that French contractor Naval Group is yet to reach terms with the federal government.
In lieu of this uncertainty, some observers have called for the program to be axed and replaced.
But if the Commonwealth government chooses to retain the program, how can Defence address potential capability gaps ahead of the delivery of the Attack Class fleet?
Michael Shoebridge, director of the defence, strategy and national security program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), argues that the government should consider procuring the ‘Orca’ — an extra-large unmanned undersea vehicle developed by Boeing and Huntington Ingalls Industries for the US Navy.
Five Orcas are scheduled to be built by the end of 2022 as part of a US$274m ($354m) contract signed in 2019.
“The unmanned submarine has a range of about 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 kilometres) and can perform dangerous, dirty and dull work like intelligence-gathering, surveillance and deployment of other systems (such as smart sea mines), with a development path up to and including deployment of other weapons to attack adversary ships, submarines and other systems,” Shoebridge writes.
“They will probably work best as part of a manned–unmanned undersea team, less closely tethered but a bit like the rapidly developed ‘Loyal Wingman’ unmanned aerial vehicle that the Royal Australian Air Force is developing and testing with Boeing Australia.”
Shoebridge conceded that there would be “plenty to work out” to ensure the Royal Australian Navy can operate Orcas effectively, but noted there’s a “practical limit” to how much planning and preparation can be done with experiments and demonstrations.
“Concepts for use and ways to resolve difficult problems like tasking and controlling undersea systems will be resolved much faster once navy personnel get their hands on live systems; that’s what’s happened throughout the history of warfare,” he writes.
The ASPI analysts proposes that the RAN collaborate with US Navy, along with US and Australian industrial partners, to develop the Orca, adding that this would “bring the most undersea combat power most quickly to Australia’s military”.
He continues: “It’s also the best way for Defence to create new challenges for adversaries that are thinking of coercing Australia or increasing their military presence in Australia’s near region.”
Shoebridge goes to write that Orcas working with upgraded Collins Class submarines would “change the calculus around Australian defence well before the first Attack Class boat turns up”.
This, he claims, would also ensure the Future Submarine and its crews are “designed and prepared” to operate with unmanned systems.
Shoebridge argues that Defence has an opportunity to negotiate an attractive deal for the Orca with Boeing, with its commercial business severely impacted by travel restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Combine this with the confidence that working with Boeing Australia on the Loyal Wingman must be giving both the government and Defence,” he adds.
Shoebridge concludes: “The US Navy’s example of spending US$274m to acquire five Orcas that are all being delivered within three years of contract shows the affordable, rapid change that Australia joining this program could bring to our own naval capability.
“Wouldn’t it be welcome to have some fast-moving good news out of Defence when it comes to submarines? It’s time to push Defence to move faster than it will left to itself.” (Source: Defence Connect)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.