Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
02 Sep 21. In cooperation with UK and Netherlands airspace authorities, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a company-owned, MQ-9B SeaGuardian® Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) today from RAF Waddington across the North Sea to Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands, completing a two-day series of flights between the two airspaces.
This multi-day demonstration displayed SeaGuardian’s maritime surveillance capabilities in support of international allies. SeaGuardian returned to RAF Waddington at the conclusion of the event.
The flight is part of a maritime demonstration series that began in August and continues through September. The goal of the flight series is to showcase the many operational capabilities of the MQ-9B, including the platform’s advanced maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Detect and Avoid System (DAAS), industry-leading endurance, and interoperability with NATO partners.
The RNLAF has ordered four MQ-9A RPA and the first is expected to be delivered to Leeuwarden later this year.
“Today’s flight is a major milestone for us. It demonstrates the ability of the MQ-9 to operate in our airspace and validates the procedures for air traffic control. It also familiarizes the air traffic controllers with Remotely Piloted Aircraft, which is an opportunity we have not had before,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Boudewijn Roddenhof, commander of the RNLAF’s 306 squadron, which will operate the new MQ-9A Reapers.
“We’re thrilled to showcase the game-changing capabilities of our RPA for the Royal Netherlands Air Force,” said Robert Schoeffling, vice president of International Strategic Development for GA-ASI. “We appreciate the international cooperation we’ve received from the RAF, the RNLAF and civil aviation authorities such as the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Our MQ-9B series is built and equipped to meet certification standards that will allow it to fly in non-segregated airspace.”
The flight to Leeuwarden was conducted as Operational Air Traffic, under the control of UK military air traffic controllers at Swanwick, up to the boundary between the UK’s and the Netherlands’ controlled airspace. At the agreed crossing point, Dutch military air traffic controllers took responsibility for the flight.
Next up, SeaGuardian will participate in the UK-led Joint Warrior exercise, which will showcase how the MQ-9B’s maritime capabilities can be integrated with other air, surface and land platforms. SeaGuardian’s maritime capability includes a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM) along with the standard High-Definition, Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras.
The flights also demonstrate GA-ASI’s revolutionary Detect and Avoid System, a safety and situational awareness enhancement designed to support MQ-9B flight in non-segregated airspace worldwide. DAAS enables MQ-9B to operate among civilian aviation traffic in the national airspace, unlike any other aircraft in its class.
SeaGuardian is the maritime version of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian®.
01 Sep 21. Northrop Grumman Australia Delivers Triton NITE Capability Ahead of Schedule. Northrop Grumman Australia (NYSE: NOC) has successfully delivered the Triton Network Integration Test Environment (NITE) to the Commonwealth of Australia ahead of schedule, marking another milestone in the Australian MQ-4C Triton program. Developed by Northrop Grumman and based at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh, NITE will support Chief Information Officer Group (CIOG) to configure and test the array of Triton network interfaces and systems prior to the delivery of the first aircraft to Australia in 2023. Critically, NITE enables CIOG to design and test Triton’s network architecture on Defence wide area networks.
“This program will derisk the first Triton aircraft arriving into Australia and leverage the expertise and lessons learned from Northrop Grumman and the US Navy,” said Christine Zeitz, general manager, Northrop Grumman Asia Pacific. “We are establishing sovereign capability to support the Triton program which once established will revolutionise maritime ISR in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Despite challenges presented by COVID-19 restrictions, Northrop Grumman’s engineering teams in the United States and Australia worked closely together to achieve the delivery milestone, leveraging experience learned through supporting the U.S. Navy’s Triton roll-out.
Beyond the successful delivery of the NITE capability, Northrop Grumman is working closely with the U.S. Navy to progress Triton toward initial operating capability and global deployments. The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman achieved the first flight of the multi-intelligence variant on July 30.
01 Sep 21. Drone-powered Logistics Provider Swoop Aero Partners with Iris Automation. Australian drone-powered logistics company, Swoop Aero, and commercial drone safety innovator, Iris Automation, have entered into a partnership to offer Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone solutions to global clients seeking to safely unlock the skies above cities and solve logistics challenges in remote and rural areas.
Swoop Aero has extensive experience providing drone logistics services to customers requiring safe, sustainable transportation in areas where ground or traditional air access is inaccessible, too slow, or not economical. Its mission is to transform the way the world moves by making access to the skies seamless.
The partnership enhances Swoop Aero’s ability to expand across global markets and support a broader range of customer missions by enabling the company to obtain complex operational approvals and certifications. Swoop Aero recently announced medical supply delivery operations with EBOS Healthcare in Australia and joined New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) airspace integration trial program. Both operations incorporate Iris Automation’s Casia detect-and-avoid technology to improve air safety.
The announcement of the partnership follows Swoop Aero’s recent unveiling of its new announced aircraft, Kite™, which has been designed with precision for urban flight and high-impact rural and remote operations. Swoop Aero considers Kite™ will be the most advanced aircraft in its category to progress through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification program in the USA. Kite™ is the centerpiece of Swoop Aero’s full technology stack, including hardware, software, and supporting infrastructure. Kite™ will likewise support the integration of Iris Automation’s Casia detect-and-avoid technology as part of its suite of safety features available to meet operational and customer requirements.
Swoop Aero deploys its proprietary drone logistics platform into networks capable of delivering essential supplies to urban, rural and remote areas globally. Building on its experience in some of the hardest places to reach in the world, the organisation has enabled the integration of Iris Automation’s detect-and-avoid (DAA) technology, Casia, into the Swoop Aero drone logistics infrastructure to enable the safe integration of manned and unmanned aviation into global supply chains in various settings and regions. The Iris Automation Casia system detects other aircraft and makes intelligent decisions about the threat they may pose to the drone. It then works seamlessly with the Swoop Aero system to trigger automated maneuvers to avoid collisions, as well as alerting the pilot in command of the mission. Iris also partners with Swoop on airspace integration regulatory resources.
Quote from Eric Peck, CEO and co-founder of Swoop Aero
“With two leading drone innovators coming together we can drive the safe integration of autonomous aircraft into even more critical areas. A DAA solution is the last great challenge preventing complex operational approvals and certification in countries like Australia and the United States. This partnership showcases the innovation inherent in our platform, and our commitment to safety.”
Quote from Jon Damush, CEO of Iris Automation
“Swoop Aero is a great example of how commercial drone services are evolving, meeting numerous critical use cases around the world. We are seeing the leading players in the space make investments in safety, and Swoop is one of the firms leading the charge to ensure the safe and efficient integration of uncrewed aircraft into existing national airspaces around the world. Demand for these use cases is highest in regions with stringent air safety standards and avoiding mid-air collisions is the most important aspect of reducing air-risk. An innovator like Swoop Aero is doing the right things to safely introduce aerial services to deliver essential supplies to previously inaccessible areas and we are excited to partner with them on this mission.”
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About Swoop Aero
Swoop Aero an Australian drone-powered logistics company founded in 2017 to transform how the world moves by making access to the skies seamless. We integrate drone logistics into the first and last mile of the health supply chain to transform its strength and agility. Where we don’t deliver that service ourselves, we provide our technology platform selectively to organisations across the globe to further the reach of our impact. Our goal is to provide a service accessible by 1 billion people in 2030, delivering impact across industries including health, transport, disaster management, and Search and Rescue. Since its founding in 2017, Swoop Aero has worked with some of the largest organisations in global health across three continents, including UNICEF, the Gates Foundation, UK Aid, USAID and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance. Swoop Aero’s forward-thinking approach to health and successful operations in three continents has led them to be recognised globally as a leading player in the med-tech industry. Find out more at www.swoop.aero
About Iris Automation
Iris Automation is a safety avionics technology company pioneering on- and off-board perception systems and aviation policy services that enable customers to build scalable operations for crewed and uncrewed aircraft; unlocking the potential of countless industries. Iris’ Casia system runs either onboard the aircraft or in a ground-based configuration. We work closely with civil aviation authorities globally as they implement regulatory frameworks ensuring BVLOS is conducted safely, partnering on multiple FAA ASSURE and BEYOND UAS Integration Programs and Transport Canada’s BVLOS Technology Demonstration Program. Visit www.irisonboard.com. (Source: PR Newswire)
01 Sep 21. Northrop Grumman and Martin UAV Conduct Successful Flight Test for Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft. Unmanned system designed to modernize US Army reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition capabilities.
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Martin UAV (a Shield AI company) have completed successful flight testing of a V-BAT unmanned aircraft system (UAS) with new features including GPS-denied navigation and target designation capabilities.
“The enhanced V-BAT offers a near zero footprint, flexible vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability that is based on a platform deployed operationally today, to address the U.S. Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) mission,” said Kenn Todorov, sector vice president and general manager, global sustainment and modernization, Northrop Grumman. “The team brings more than 30 years’ experience in the production, delivery and sustainment of unmanned aircraft systems to support this critical mission today and into the future.”
For FTUAS, the U.S. Army is seeking a rapidly deployable, GPS-denied navigation-capable, expeditionary VTOL system capable of persistent aerial reconnaissance for U.S. Army Brigade Combat Teams, Special Forces, and Ranger battalions.
The offering is based on the industry leading Martin UAV V-BAT UAS. It is compact, lightweight, simple to operate, and can be set up, launched and recovered by a two-soldier team in confined environments. The V-BAT also is designed with sufficient payload capacity to carry a range of interchangeable payloads, including electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and electronic warfare (EW) payloads, depending on mission-specific requirements. Additionally, Shield AI’s recent acquisition of Martin UAV will enable rapid development of GPS-denied and autonomy capabilities for V-BAT through the future porting of Shield AI’s autonomy stack, Hivemind onto V-BAT.
31 Aug 21. US Navy launches autonomous technologies strategy. The US Navy’s (USN’s) new autonomous technologies strategy seeks to accelerate development and deployment of intelligent platforms, linked through a highly distributed command-and-control (C2) architecture, to provide the necessary combat hardware to enable the sea service’s Project Overmatch requirements.
The Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS) strategy, as per senior service leaders, will be a “confluence of autonomy with unmanned systems and artificial intelligence (AI) ” – from technology development and acquisition management to system maturation and infrastructure support across the enterprise, according to the strategy.
“IAS has the potential to provide high-impact, transformative operational and administrative capabilities in peacetime and wartime. These strategic goals cultivate a continuous development and operationalisation process for evolutionary and disruptive IAS technologies and concepts,” the strategy stated. “They also drive the adoption of operational IAS-based capabilities to provide continuous, effective, and efficient support … across all phases of force development and force application,” it added.
The AI-enabled technologies and platforms developed under the IAS, as well as the USN’s Unmanned Campaign Framework plan issued in March, will likely feed into operational requirements outlined by senior service leadership for the Project Overmatch initiative.
The initiative is designed to develop and integrate resilient C2 networks to improve and accelerate the teaming of unmanned air, surface, and underwater vessels with manned weapons and platforms. Service officials see the initiative, which will underpin the service’s new Distributed Maritime Operations concept, as the service’s best chance to counter China’s rising presence in the Indo-Pacific region. (Source: Jane’s)
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