Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
09 Sep 21. Thales, Schiebel complete S-100 UAS flight trials. Thales UK and Schiebel have undertaken first UK flight trials of a new shipborne multisensor unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed to meet emerging requirements for persistent over-the-horizon surveillance.
Leveraging Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS, the two companies have developed an end-to-end maritime intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) solution designed to detect, fix, track, and identify surface threats such as fast inshore attack craft or waterborne improvised explosive devices. Initial flight testing with the multipayload system – including both radar and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors – was undertaken in west Wales during August 2021.
Thales and Schiebel announced in June that their teaming to pursue opportunities in the maritime UAS sector, with an initial focus on the UK market. According to Matt Moore, Thales business development lead for maritime air autonomy, the teaming with Schiebel reflects emerging customer requirements for more capable maritime UASs offering a wide area surveillance capability.
“The market is increasingly looking for a detect function, which effectively mandates a maritime radar,” Moore told Janes . “Our I-Master radar, integrated onto the S-100 air vehicle, embodies a maritime mode set to deliver wide area surveillance at sea.
“Alongside I-Master, we have baselined the IAI [Israel Aerospace Industries] POPUltra EO/IR payload for identification and observation, together with AIS [automatic identification system) and IFF [identification friend-or-foe].”
Thales and Schiebel have also worked to address the fusion, management, and dissemination of the ISTAR product, as well as its integration into a ship combat management system (CMS) environment. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Oct 21. Vanilla UAV Claims World Record 8 Day Flight. Vanilla Unmanned demonstrated 8 days, 50 minutes, and 47 seconds of continuous flight, breaking the world record for unrefueled, internal combustion endurance of an unmanned aircraft.
Vanilla launched from Rogers Dry Lakebed on Friday, September 24th and was recovered on Saturday, October 2nd having flown 12,200 miles over Edwards Air Force Base with a communications relay system & ample ballast to accommodate other sensors.
The 8 day flight is a step change from Vanilla’s prior record of 5 days and is without comparison to other UAS. The flight was conducted in coordination with Edwards Air Force Base and has been submitted for ratification as an official world record.
The world-record flight was the last in a series of events at Edwards Air Force Base demonstrating Vanilla’s unique multi-day, multi-sensor capability. Several sorties over 50 hours each carried two EO/IR cameras, two satellite communications systems for BVLOS operations, and a customer-proprietary radar in addition to the mesh radio system.
“Vanilla has changed the definition of endurance. This is a tactical asset with strategic relevance,” says Dr. Dan Edwards, Platform Aerospace CTO. “The notion that tactical UAS must be VTOL and fly for less than 24 hours excludes a disruptive technology that could be fielded today. The value of inexpensive multi-day, multi-sensor coverage is immense.”
Unlike larger long endurance UAS, Vanilla is a tactical-scale Group III system that uses an internal-combustion engine for propulsion. Its smaller size enables runway independent launch from forward locations with minimal manning. Unlike solar-powered high-altitude systems, Vanilla is immediately responsive to operator tasking and flies at tactical altitudes, thereby accommodating smaller and lower cost sensors for the same C5ISR value. Vanilla runs on standard Jet-A fuel, easing logistics concerns during forward operations.
Vanilla’s airframe can carry up to 150 lbs of sensor payloads across five internal bays and external mounts, each receiving onboard power and datalink for sensor C2. A VTOL variant is in production with government sponsorship and will take flight in early 2022.
Platform Aerospace would like to acknowledge its employees, industry partners, and government sponsors whose engagement was instrumental in achieving this aviation milestone. Government sponsors include: USAF’s 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force (ET-CTF), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and NASA among others. Industry partners include: AlarisPro, IMSAR, Inmarsat Government, L3Harris WESCAM, Mission Secure, Inc., Progeny, Sechan Electronics, and VX Aerospace. Record submission is through the Academy of Model Aeronautics. (Source: UAS VISION)
05 Oct 21. US Navy seeks to expand Blue Water UAS programme. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) is seeking investment for its Blue Water Maritime Logistics Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) effort to contract additional companies and advance the technology faster.
Bill Macchione, Blue Water UAS project lead, told Janes on 28 September that this investment could come from sources within the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), or outside the US Navy (USN). Macchione said this funding could have the Blue Water UAS technology proven and mature by the time the USN determines there is a hard requirement for the capability as a programme of record.
The USN in June awarded Pterodynamics a USD655,000 other transaction authority (OTA) contract, including unexercised options, to deliver three of its 4 m wingspan Transwing 13 folding wing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft by June 2022. Skyways of Austin, Texas, received an OTA in August 2019 worth USD575,000 and a follow-on award in late 2020. Skyways is developing a capability on its Group 3 separate lift cruise (SLC) VTOL aircraft to have its wings autonomously fold after take off and before landing, which could provide better handling or ship storage. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Sep 21 BAE Systems to work with SME on uncrewed electric air system. SME Malloy Aeronautics claims its Sting Ray uncrewed electric quadcopter will help BAE Systems to achieve net-zero and multi-domain integration ambitions. Malloy Aeronautics unveiled its T650 Sting Ray, an uncrewed, battery-powered quadcopter air system weighing just under 300kgs, at DSEI. The vehicle can carry a payload equivalent to its own weight and reach around 140km/h. Its open architecture design allows the integration of most third-party equipment. In the last two years, the T650 team has worked with Royal Marines on delivering supplies from ship to shore in the UK, the US, Cyprus and even in the Arctic Circle. UK-based Malloy Aeronautics has 12 years of electric aircraft experience and will collaborate with BAE Systems to support the company in meeting its sustainability and multi-domain integration goals.
Presenting the T650 Sting Ray at DSEI 2021, Malloy Aeronautics chief executive officer Oriol Badia said: “Our vision is that our vehicles will become the workhorse for delivering humanitarian aid equipment, and even people or any obstacles autonomously.
“We build logistics platforms, but we also build a testbed for new technologies, and we will keep on pushing the boundaries of all-electric aircraft, with the presentation of these new concepts.”
To satisfy the current requirements of navies, and to be able to stay within affordability, the Sting Ray’s battery allows for up to 30km range, depending on the payload size.
Badia said: “Another thing we’ve done this year is for the first time ever, we’ve tested a new capability that will help save lives at sea by delivering a live rock, pulling from the ship. So, there is a clear need for airborne capabilities, and both in the land of maritime environments.”
Malloy claims the T650’s capabilities will open up a wide range of options for users, including anti-submarine warfare and last-minute supply.
According to BAE Systems, its hybrid vehicles have carried out 12,000 postings, saving approximately 25m gallons of heavy oil that older systems would have consumed.
Malloy says the initial trigger for starting to experiment with aircraft came from the need to replace helicopters doing cattle herding in Australia to reduce accident rates and create a more affordable option.
“We moved into logistics later on, based on discussions with the US Army, which at the time we’re looking also for safer and lower cost options to resupply troops in dangerous environments,” said Badia.
The companies carry out assembly, design and testing in the UK to control the quality supply chain and agility.
BAE Systems advanced projects, technology and manufacturing director Dave Holmes said “Malloy are experts in rotary capabilities and working together with small-medium size companies is vital. So, Malloy was a clear choice.”
The companies say T650 uses the highest capability of lightweight batteries, and every part is produced in the UK. Malloy and BAE Systems say producing batteries with larger ranges would be possible, but that would add weight to the vehicle and may risk crossing over the boundaries of affordability.
Holmes explained that each company protects and owns its capabilities, rather than co-own the whole of T650. The companies are planning to scale up production of the Sting Ray for both commercial and defence use.
Testbed flights of Sting Ray are due to take place towards the end of 2022 and it will be available to customers in 2023. (Source: naval-technology.com)
05 Oct 21. Aeronautics highlights its Dominator XP Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) UAS, with search & rescue (SAR) capability both on land and at sea. The Dominator is capable of all-weather and denied-GPS operations for SAR missions and help saving lives. AUSA Annual Meeting 2021, Washington DC, 11-13 October. Hall E, Stand No. 7427 (RAFAEL). Aeronautics Group – a leading provider of integrated turnkey solutions based on unmanned systems platforms, payloads and communications for defense and HLS markets – is highlighting its Dominator XP Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) UAS with search & rescue (SAR) capability both on land and at sea at AUSA 2021.
The Dominator XP is capable of all-weather and denied-GPS operations, which is most essential for SAR missions. Based on the vast ISRAT mission experience and proven record of Aeronautics’ Orbiter family, the Dominator makes a significant contribution to life-saving missions.
Based on the MPP DA42 configuration, this certifiable platform can be equipped with the most advanced systems, such as high-performance EO day/night payloads, SAR and optical radars, mobile location system, satellite communication and more, to ensure mission success.
As a two-engine unmanned system, the Dominator XP is the most reliable solution for SAR missions, safely covering long ranges, and operable in harsh weather conditions, over sea and land.
“Following the recent acquisition of Magal Security Systems earlier this year, Aeronautics has become a one-stop-shop for ISTAR solutions for both defense and HLS applications, offering the comprehensive capabilities required for border protection, intelligence gathering and port protection against different tactical levels of drone, and now for SAR missions as well,” says Moshe Elazar, CEO of Aeronautics Group. “We are proud of the Group’s tremendous growth and consolidation as a world leader in the field of multi-cross action intelligence.”
Aeronautics Group is also strengthening its presence in the U.S. with the establishment of a new plant in Prescott, Arizona, which is operated by U.S. subsidiary, CP Technologies. CP Technologies is primarily engaged in the design and manufacture of rugged equipment for military and civilian applications for the U.S. market. In addition, as part of the group’s mission to support its customer base worldwide, CP Aeronautics serves as the marketing entity for the US, providing Aeronautics’ advanced solutions.
04 Oct 21. Flare Bright – DASA Persistent Autonomous Drone (DPAD). Following a successful initial DASA contract to prove the concept of true autonomy in drones, we have been awarded a larger follow-up contract to provide the same autonomy in powered drones to give increased persistence and endurance. This project will deliver a fixed wing drone that can fly without GPS or any remote-control, when other drones are unflyable due to jamming and denial.
Our latest £425,391 contract lasts for 13 months and recently commenced, and follows on from the completion of an initial £226,500 contract that successfully concluded in April 2021. It was announced at DSEI, to coincide with us being selected to showcase our success at DASA’s stand.
The military is increasingly using drones. GPS will often be denied and spoofed, and electromagnetic communication used for remote control will be jammed. Drones typically have an unsophisticated approach to dealing with jamming, outages or failure. We have developed the technology to develop a truly autonomous drone that doesn’t rely on any of these methods and uses un-jammable internal means of flight control and navigation.
Our existing autonomous gliding drone has proven this and has now been selected by the US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment and has been promoted on the UK Government’s website as a Case Study.
Any military would like to develop a truly autonomous drone that doesn’t rely on GPS or remote control and just uses unjammable internal means of flight control and navigation. As DASA itself states, “The UK Defence and Security sector has demanding requirements for accurate and resilient Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT). When Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are either absent, denied, degraded or unreliable, a platform’s Inertial Navigation System (INS) will drift; PNT uncertainty will grow, and mission success may be compromised. As the future operational environment becomes increasingly congested, cluttered, connected and constrained, advances in current navigation technologies will be required to avoid mission failure.” This project will achieve the next level of practical development in this area.
As Flare Bright’s Chief Commercial Officer (and former paratrooper), Chris Daniels puts it, “Every soldier knows that instant, tactical aerial surveillance is vital on any operation. To provide this to front line soldiers in a super lightweight form, with no training needed, and that can work in any challenging environment has to be good news for soldier survivability. We’re delighted we’re helping out.”
04 Oct 21. Korean Air Gets Contract for Further Stealth UAV Work. Korean Air has secured a government contract to develop a low-observable unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to advance South Korea’s stealth technology. The contract award came from the Korea Research Institute for Defense Technology Planning and Advancement (KRIT), says Korean Air. The project involves producing a UAV that aids the development of radar absorbing materials and a low observable shape that can be applied to future UAVs. The company already has experience with low observable UAV work. From 2010 to August 2021, it developed and tested a UAV prototype that features low-observable characteristics. This resulted in a technical demonstration model that has flown fewer than ten times. Korean says that from 2016 to 2016, it was able to reduce the UAV’s radar cross section through the use of what it refers to as “multi-functional composites.” In addition to its airline operations, Korean Air has extensive involvement in the aerostructures and the MRO business through its KAL-ASD aerospace division.
On 28 September, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration said that KRIT has developed “four core technologies” related to low-observable UAVs. These include reducing a UAVs radar cross section (RCS) through its structure, and radome technology that can “selectively transmit or shield” various wavelengths. The other areas are stealthy, built in antennas and “lightweight radio wave absorbing paint technology”, which also reduces a UAV’s RCS. (Source: UAS VISION/FlightGlobal)
01 Oct 21. Russia Develops All-Weather Rescue Drone. Russian specialists have developed and successfully tested a unique all-weather rescue drone, named Seadrone, which can land and take off from the surface of the water as well as work in the Arctic region, the press service of the Shooting From The Air company reported.
“The development of rescue drones has been underway everywhere in the world, but quite often the standard drones are re-equipped for special purposes. Such drones have a range of limitations on weather conditions, automatic task execution as well as lacking the ability to land on the water, fly with a strong gust of wind with sand and dust,” the press service noted.
The first national rescue drone was successfully tested in the Kara Sea where the exercise to rescue a man who fell overboard was conducted. In conditions of salt fog, strong wind and sub-zero temperatures a Seadrone automatically detected a man and returned to the desk of the vessel.
In trials in Dubai, the performance of the drone and its components were tested when exposed to severe environmental factors, namely high air temperature (up to +55 degrees Celsius), increased air humidity (up to 80%), seawater and salt, dust and sand.
“A drone is fully equipped with a sealed screw-motor group to work in the Arctic as well as in countries of Africa and the Middle East. It can withstand temperatures from minus 30 to plus 55 degrees Celsius without overheating or becoming frozen,” the press service concluded. (Source: UAS VISION/TASS)
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