Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
21 Dec 21. DARPA Selects Performers to Build, Test Manta Ray UUVs. Two industry teams are pursing unique approaches to long endurance undersea missions. DARPA has awarded Phase 2 contracts to continue the Manta Ray program that began in 2020. The effort seeks to demonstrate innovative technologies allowing payload-capable autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to operate on long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments. The two prime contractors, Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group, are each developing unique full-scale demonstration vehicles. The Manta Ray program seeks to develop UUVs that operate for extended durations without the need for on-site human logistics support or maintenance. In Phase 1 of the program, performers designed and conducted preliminary testing on novel approaches in energy management, UUV reliability, biofouling and corrosion control, navigation, and undersea obstacle avoidance, among other areas that directly enable long-endurance missions.
“DARPA’s Manta Ray program has made significant breakthroughs toward enabling payload-capable autonomous underwater vehicles to operate independently of crewed vessels or support infrastructure,” stated CDR Kyle Woerner, Manta Ray’s program manager. “By investing in diverse solutions, DARPA strengthens our ability to transition innovative undersea technologies to our national security partners. Manta Ray is uniquely positioning itself to simultaneously introduce a new class of underwater vehicle while contributing key component technologies to other vital undersea programs.” The Manta Ray program concluded Phase 1 with Critical Design Reviews that demonstrated design maturity and readiness for advancement to Phase 2. The selected performers will now work on subsystem testing followed by fabrication and in-water demonstrations of full-scale integrated vehicles. (Source: ASD Network)
21 Dec 21. Teal Drones to double size of new factory. Teal Drones, which opened a new 13,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October, plans to double the size of the factory to 26,000 sq ft to meet an expected surge in demand, according to the chief executive of US-based parent company Red Cat Holdings. Teal, which intends to ramp up production to 200–300 drones a month over the next year, will ultimately be able to make thousands of drones a month at the expanded site. The increased capacity will allow the company to accommodate potential large contract awards from the US Army and other customers, Red Cat CEO Jeff Thompson told investors on 20 December. Teal, a start-up that Red Cat acquired earlier this year, makes the Golden Eagle small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS), which can perform short-range reconnaissance for military operations, as well as inspections for infrastructure, security, and land and wildlife management. Teal is one of five companies the US Department of Defense selected in August 2020 to provide sUAS to the federal government. (Source: Janes)
21 Dec 21. BAE Systems and Embraer to explore potential defence variants for the Eve eVTOL aircraft. BAE Systems and Embraer Defense & Security have announced plans to embark on a joint study to explore the development of Eve’s electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicle for the defence and security market. The joint study builds on Eve’s development for the urban air mobility market and will look at how the aircraft could provide cost-effective, sustainable and adaptable capability as a defence variant. Engineers from BAE Systems’ Air sector in Lancashire, UK, will work together with the Embraer Defense & Security team based in São José dos Campos, Brazil to explore how a defence variant could be used for a range of applications such as personnel transportation, surveillance and reconnaissance, disaster relief and humanitarian response. Eve’s eVTOL could help to transform defence operations, whilst reducing their environmental impact – at a much lower operating cost than today’s platforms.
“This collaboration with one of the leading defence companies in the world on this exciting and game-changing technology is in line with our goal to establish strategic partnerships. We look forward to exploring more ways our two organisations can work together and benefit from those rich experiences and reputations. The collaboration allows us to tap into talent from across the globe in our shared interest to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for the skies,” said Jackson Schneider, president and CEO, Embraer Defense & Security.
Ian Muldowney, Chief Operating Officer, BAE Systems Air sector, said: “Bringing together Embraer’s innovative technology in the commercial sector with our extensive defence engineering and systems integration experience will help us to accelerate the pace of new innovations. This joint study is a great example of how we’re delivering against our commitment to collaborate to explore new and sustainable technologies for our customers.”
The all-electric aircraft is part of Embraer’s commitment towards more sustainable aviation and has come out of Eve, an independent company dedicated to accelerating the global Urban Air Mobility (UAM) ecosystem. The joint study directly supports BAE Systems’ strategy to accelerate sustainable technology development through increased investment in research and development, as well as working with industry partners, SMEs and academia.
18 Dec 21. Talyn Air Hits Critical Milestone for US Air Force Runway-Free eVTOL Operations. On December 11, Los Angeles-based Talyn Air, creators of a 100% electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft system, inspired by the 2-stage rocket concept, successfully demonstrated in-flight deployment, a major milestone towards proving its concept for runway-free operations for the U.S. Air Force. Part of a 2-year, $1 m U.S. Air Force Direct to Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract through AFWERX to revolutionize battlefield logistics, Talyn’s lift vehicle was proven to negate the need for runways or catapults and enables fielding aircraft from virtually anywhere. AFWERX’s mission is to solve problems and enhance effectiveness by enabling thoughtful, deliberate, ground-up innovation across the Air Force. Its Direct to Phase II contracts allow companies like Talyn to complete feasibility studies and prototype-validated concepts under an accelerated schedule. These contracts are awarded to explore novel, dual-use technologies not otherwise covered by specific SBIR topics and to explore defense related options for solutions useful to the Air Force.
Talyn co-founders, Jamie Gull and Evan Mucasey who, combined, have over a decade of experience developing the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft at SpaceX, have built and tested the company’s 1:4 subscale prototypes. The testing provided initial validation for this first-in-class dual vehicle design. They are now building full scale prototypes for the Air Force.
Gull and Mucasey bring their experience with multi-stage rockets to the eVTOL market with a design that covers more distance at higher speeds than can be accomplished with any single vehicle. The lift-vehicle deploys fully-charged, cruise-optimized aircraft from vertiports. At its final destination, the cruise optimized vehicle docks with a second lift-vehicle. The two land vertically, negating the need for runways and bringing goods closer to their final destination.
The company doubled down on flexibility for its military design. The specialized lift vehicle can be coupled with Air Force fixed wing runway-dependent airframes, including Group 4 and 5 large intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) drones, to launch and recover vertically. This drastically reduces downrange personnel and infrastructure requirements for ISR and other missions.
The cruise vehicle has fixed wings optimized for forward travel and will also be capable of conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) to provide additional operational flexibility and safety.
These advanced capabilities will be supported by innovations in the airframes, mechanical docking interfaces, autonomy software, and multi-vehicle onboard navigation sensors. Those systems include an autopilot with inertial navigation units, inter-vehicle communication hardware, as well as sensors and software designed specifically to estimate vehicle positions relative to each other.
Company co-founder, Mucasey, was instrumental in the Falcon 9’s first hypersonic orbital reentry and responsible for the design, testing and certification for human spaceflight of the Dragon SpaceCraft pressure vessel, explained the ways Talyns’ eVTOL can improve future mission efficiency and effectiveness:
“We’re designing a flexible architecture which is fundamentally a VTOL-enabler. It supports operations for conventional fixed-wing aircraft by lifting them to altitude, releasing them for their mission, then recovering them with the lift vehicle. This negates the need for long paved runways and centralized infrastructure in theater. Further, Talyn’s cruise vehicle supports fully electric ISR and tactical missions while accommodating a variety of onboard systems to serve broad mission sets. Being fully electric, it has an inherently low acoustic and thermal signature.
And finally, Talyn systems could accomplish intratheater airlift missions without paved runways and at a fraction of the cost of helicopters.”
Talyn CEO and co-founder, Gull, a Stanford University-trained Aerospace Engineer, brings additional experience beyond his time at SpaceX. In only 9 months, he previously designed, built, and flew similar prototype aircraft with a small team of 5 engineers. In response to the deployment and Phase II milestones he stated,
“These prototype demonstrations prove out the feasibility of Talyn’s technology and set us up for success as we scale up. The Air Force has witnessed our significant progress and signed up to continue supporting us under multiple new contracts.”
Separately, Talyn qualifies for AFWERX’s AFVentures Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI) funding, which would secure it a 2-year effort to design, build, and fly full scale prototypes with Agility Prime as a potential continuation of its existing Phase II. TACFI is a Supplemental Funding Pilot Program (SFPP) program focused on transitioning smaller-scale, tactical capabilities at the operational level.
AFVentures, in collaboration with the Department of the Air Force (DAF) SBIR/STTR Program, recently launched this transition-focused funding opportunity to scale technology development over the “valley of death” by capitalizing current SBIR/STTR Phase II efforts to turn prototypes into Air and Space Force Programs.
Through TACFI, small businesses can receive from $375,000 to $1.7 m in SBIR/STTR funds over a two-year period. For every dollar of SBIR/STTR funds, companies must also receive at least $1 of other government funding (i.e., non-SBIR/STTR) or $1 of private funding. Talyn raised the required private funds in an oversubscribed round earlier this year. Talyn’s commercial lift-plus-cruise configuration will travel over 300 miles at 200 miles per hour on a single charge while carrying over 1000 pounds of cargo (the equivalent of 5-passengers). This equates to triple the range of other eVTOLs for similar point-to-point flights. (Source: UAS VISION)
20 Dec 21. U.S. Navy, Boeing Complete First Carrier Tests for MQ-25. The U.S. Navy and Boeing [NYSE: BA] have successfully maneuvered the Boeing-owned T1 test asset on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier for the first time – an early step forward in ensuring the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler will seamlessly integrate into carrier operations. During an underway demonstration aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Navy flight deck directors – known as “yellow shirts” – used standard hand signals to direct T1 just like any other carrier-based aircraft. Instead of a pilot receiving the commands, however, it was a Boeing MQ-25 Deck Handling Operator (DHO) right beside the “yellow shirt” who commanded the aircraft using a new handheld deck control device.
“This is another significant step forward in demonstrating MQ-25’s integration into the Carrier Air Wing on the flight deck of our Fleet’s aircraft carriers,” said Capt. Chad Reed, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. “The success of this event is a testament to the hard work of our engineers, testers, operators and the close collaboration and teaming from Naval Air Force Atlantic and the crew aboard CVN 77.”
The demonstration was intended to ensure the design of the MQ-25 will successfully integrate into the carrier environment and to evaluate the functionality, capability and handling qualities of the deck handling system both in day and night conditions. Maneuvers included taxiing on the deck, connecting to the catapult, clearing the landing area and parking on the deck.
“The Navy has a rigorous, well-established process for moving aircraft on the carrier. Our goal was to ensure the MQ-25 fits into the process without changing it,” said Jim Young, MQ-25 chief engineer. “From the design of the aircraft to the design of the system moving it, our team has worked hard to make the MQ-25 carrier suitable in every way.”
DHO’s trained in Boeing’s deck handling simulation lab in St. Louis, where they practiced entering commands from simulated “yellow shirts” into the real handheld device. A simulated MQ-25, running the aircraft’s real operational flight code and interfaces, would move accordingly. The handheld controller is a simple, easy-to-use device designed specifically for a generation of sailors who natively understand such handheld technology and have experience with controllers used in the gaming industry today.
The deck handling demonstration followed a two-year flight test campaign for the Boeing-owned T1 test asset, during which the Boeing and Navy team refueled three different carrier-based aircraft – an F/A-18 Super Hornet, an E-2D Hawkeye and an F-35C Lightning II.
“The Navy gave us two key performance parameters for the program – aerial refueling and integration onto the carrier deck,” said Dave Bujold, Boeing MQ-25 program director. “We’ve shown that the MQ-25 can meet both requirements, and we’ve done it years earlier than traditional acquisition programs.”
16 Dec 21. LIG Nex1 completes Sea Sword 2 trials. South Korea’s LIG Nex1 announced on 15 December that it has completed sea trials of its Haegum-2 (Sea Sword 2) unmanned surface vehicle (USV).
The company said development work on the Sea Sword 2 was carried out under a three-year programme supported by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration and the country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy.
It added that the Sea Sword 2 was put through a seaworthiness trial in waters near Namhae Island on the southern coast, proving its ability to operate without supervisory personnel aboard in conditions of up to Sea State 4.
The USV has been designed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions in collaboration with underwater and other surface unmanned platforms. It is equipped with various sensing and mapping technologies and an automated launch and recovery system. It features a displacement of 11 tonnes and has an overall length of 12m and a 3.5m beam. LIG Nex1 is pitching the Sea Sword 2 to the Republic of Korea Navy. (Source: Janes)
16 Dec 21. Russia unveils upgraded S-70 Hunter drone, with plans for fielding in 2024. The first flight-ready model of Russia’s upgraded S-70 Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy combat drone is on its way to the military for testing, with fielding expected in 2024. Developed by Chkalov’s Novosibirsk aviation plant in western Siberia — a subsidiary of aircraft specialist Sukhoi Company — the drone is equipped with a flat nozzle to increase its stealth capability. It has a takeoff weight of 20 tons, measures 14 meters long and has a wingspan of 19 meters. Reports claim the new version can reach speeds up to 1,000 kph. The new S-70 is equipped with technologies “surpassing a few foreign analogues by a number of parameters,” Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexey Krivoruchko told reporters Wednesday during a visit to the Novosibirsk plant.
A spokesman for the United Aircraft Corporation, which owns Sukhoi, told Defense News that the S-70 is a “promising aviation platform with great potential for the development of a family of unmanned systems of the future.”
The drone is expected to complement Su-57 fighter missions, with one jet able to work in tandem with up to four S-70s, an aviation industry source told state-run news agency Tass. If testing is successful, the drone will enter service in 2024, Krivoruchko said.
The head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Ruslan Pukhov, told Defense News that by unveiling the drone, Sukhoi has “confirmed its status as the leading Russian design bureau.”
The drone uses a Russian made-engine — the Al-41F1, which is also used on the Su-57 and the Checkmate aircraft — giving it a range of up to 6,000 kilometers, Pukhov added. But he expressed caution about the drone’s future.
“One has to wait and see,” the think tanker said. “Will it turn into a flying robot that will be able to fly long distances and to perform combat operations?”
He recalled the fate of the heavy Skat drone, whose prototype was produced by UAC subsidiary Russian Aircraft Corporation (commonly known as MiG) in 2007 using stealth technology. But in 2012, work on the project stopped due to a lack of interest from the Defence Ministry. The effort resumed in 2018.
Those thoughts were echoed by retired Col. Mikhail Khodoryonok, a senior military analyst for local news site Gazeta.Ru, who told Defense News that the drone “has to prove itself in a combat mission,” possibly in Syria. Khodaryonok also has his doubts about Skat’s future. (Source: Defense News)
16 Dec 21. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) recently completed a significant milestone in the production of Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft when the aircraft fuselage was mounted onto Triton’s unique one-piece wing. Once completed and delivered, Triton’s powerful payload and endurance will provide the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with the ability to detect and analyze threats that were previously undetectable.
“This production milestone further demonstrates our commitment to both sides of the cooperative program between the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.S. Navy,” said Rho Cauley-Bruner, Triton program manager, Northrop Grumman. “We are on schedule to deliver Triton’s powerful capability in support of Australia’s national security.”
Australia’s first Triton is on track to be delivered just as the U.S. Navy expects to achieve initial operating capability with their multi-intelligence Tritons, the same configuration Australia is receiving. The identical capabilities will allow the RAAF and U.S. Navy to share data and maintain an unblinking autonomous intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting capability over some of the world’s most critical maritime regions.
“The Air Force is pleased with the continuing progress of our first Triton and the ongoing strong relationships we enjoy within the Cooperative Program with the U.S. Navy and with the manufacturer of the Triton, Northrop Grumman Corporation” said Group Captain Jason Lind, Director, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare, Air Force Headquarters. “I am looking forward to seeing our first Triton roll off the production line and then commence flying in Australian skies in 2024. This capability will extend Australia’s ability to see and understand our maritime approaches to the north and also as far south as Antarctica.”
“This important milestone highlights the successful partnership between our two great nations, and reflects the collaborative work between industry and government in delivering this strategic capability to our Australian Mates”, said U.S. Navy Capt. Josh Guerre, Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Manager.
15 Dec 21. US Navy celebrates first uncrewed maritime vehicle testing facilities. The facilities are located on NSWC PHD at Naval Base Ventura County. The US Navy has held a joint ceremony to celebrate the first testing facilities for uncrewed maritime vehicles at Port Hueneme. The ceremony marked the completion of improvements to the Littoral Combat Ship Mission Package Support Facility (Building 1392) and the start of construction of the modular administrative building. The two facilities are located on Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in California. The buildings have been designed to accommodate testing, evaluation, and technology demonstrations for extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicles (XLUUV) and uncrewed surface vessel (USV) prototypes.
Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406) programme manager captain Pete Small said: “These facilities will be the focal point of navy learning and experimentation on the capabilities, operations and sustainment of Unmanned Maritime Vehicle prototypes to inform future programmes.”
Building 1392 will house the XLUUV prototypes, and staff who will perform testing, evaluation and training on the vehicles currently under contract with Boeing for fabrication. The modular administrative building is being built for the newly formed Unmanned Surface Vessel Division One and Unmanned Undersea Vehicles Squadron One (UUVRON 1) personnel. According to Naval Sea Systems Command, personnel at this new building will operate and maintain the uncrewed vehicle prototypes. (Source: naval-technology.com)
15 Dec 21. Kratos’ Shadowy New Drone Design for US Air Force. Kratos has released the first rendering, above, of the unmanned aircraft it is developing under the U.S. Air Force’s secretive Off-Board Sensing Station program, or OBSS. While details about the drone remain limited, we do know there is a heavy emphasis on scalability, modularity, and affordability, and that it will leverage advanced design and manufacturing concepts to help achieve these goals. There also may be hints as to what it may be intended to do thanks to recent remarks from one of the company’s executives. Breaking Defense was the first to publish the artist’s conception of Kratos’ OBSS design, along with an interview with Steve Fendley, the President of the company’s Unmanned Systems Division. In October, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded Kratos a contract to build and flight test at least one OBSS prototype. General Atomics also received a functionally identical OBSS contract from AFRL, though the value of their deal was different. From what we can see in the rendering, the drone has a stealthy design with a noticeable continuous chine-line that wraps around the fuselage, as well as a serrated top-mounted air inlet and shrouded engine exhaust. It has a simple swept wing and a broadly splayed v-tail. There are some similarities, especially in the rear two-thirds of the design, to Kratos’ XQ-58A Valkyrie drone, but the OBSS lacks the cranked wing of that design and its tail is differently configured. There are virtually no details available yet about its expected performance or other capabilities, either. In the interview published by Breaking Defense, Fendley, the President of Kratos’ Unmanned Systems Division, was very careful to speak in generalities, rather than about what OBSS might be capable of specifically.
“In general, that’s correct. However, there’s certainly the possibility of having an attritable aircraft carry an exquisite sensor,” Fendley said in response to a question about whether OBSS would carry a basic payload to help keep its costs down and make it less of a problem if it were to be lost on a mission. “For example, we could integrate a $5 m-$10 m sensor on one of our systems. But that specific tail number, in all likelihood, would not be performing an attritable mission, even though technically the expensive sensor would be on an attritable aircraft.”
Defining the term “attritable” can be difficult. The War Zone has generally described attritable platforms – drones or anything else – as ones designed with a focus on balancing capabilities against lower costs to produce something capable of performing certain missions in higher-risk environments where commanders might be disinclined to employ a costlier and more technologically advanced asset. Fendley, in this new interview, used a definition of a system that costs “$2 m to $20m per copy” and “provides a high-performance-versus-cost-system solution that the user can afford to potentially lose at some non-zero rate.” The Kratos’ XQ-58A, which the company has long said it hopes will eventually have a unit cost of around $2 m as production expands, would be at the lower end of that target price range.
“The other thing about attritables that’s different from legacy UAS, outfitted with their exquisite sensors, is distributed lethality in the case of weapons and distributed sensing in the case of sensor missions. Maybe you have a very comprehensive sensor capability because you have 10 of these attritable aircraft carrying non-exquisite EO/IR systems, for example,” he continued. “You’re fusing the data you get from those aircraft remotely, and the picture you get is very precise. Now let’s say that three of those aircraft get shot down; you still have a very high-quality picture and good intelligence because you have a seven-sensor baseline instead of just one very expensive sensor. The distributed method helps reduce cost and increase mission effectiveness and survivability.”
“Speaking of attritable aircraft generally, not necessarily OBSS, we’re talking about sensor extension and range extension. Let’s say a manned system has particular sensors, such as EO/IR, and the goal is to increase standoff range against a particular threat,” Fendley added when asked to describe a notional OBSS mission. “A handful of attritable aircraft could fly in a teaming formation with a manned aircraft. As the mission progresses, the pilot in the manned aircraft would say, ‘OK, this is as far as I’m going toward the threat because we’re getting close to a contested environment or risk area for me.’ The unmanned aircraft would then be tasked with continuing into the contested environment/risk area and collecting and sharing data to better inform the mission and the warfighter.” (Source: UAS VISION/The Drive)
14 Dec 21. Russia rolls out first flight prototype of state-of-the art Okhotnik heavy strike drone. The drone’s serial deliveries to the troops are due to begin from 2024. The first flight prototype of Russia’s state-of-the-art S-70 ‘Okhotnik’ (‘Hunter’) heavy strike drone was rolled out at the Novosibirsk Aviation Enterprise and preparations are underway for the drone’s debut flight, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko said on Tuesday.
“The drone’s roll-out signifies the end of the item’s assembly as a whole and its outfitting with all the required onboard equipment in compliance with the requirements for aircraft and the switchover to comprehensive ground tests to prepare for its debut flight,” the deputy defense minister said.
The Russian deputy defense minister who is on a working trip to Novosibirsk inspected the pace of the fulfillment of the defense procurement plan at the Novosibirsk Aviation Enterprise and held a meeting with the enterprise’s management where he discussed the implementation of government contracts. The defense official oversaw the roll-out of the first Okhotnik drone flight prototype and inspected the process of the assembly of the drone’s second prototype.
“The United Aircraft Corporation of the Rostec state corporation unveiled the S-70 ‘Okhotnik’ drone furnished with a flat jet nozzle,” Rostec said, commenting on the drone’s roll-out.
“The new Okhotnik features a flat thrust nozzle as its major feature, which reduces its radar signature,” Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov was quoted as saying.
As United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) CEO Yury Slyusar pointed out, the work under the Okhotnik program is a key area for the Sukhoi Company and the UAC. ‘Today we are making all efforts to complete the trials as soon as possible and launch serial production,” the chief executive said.
State-of-the-art Okhotnik strike drone
The S-70 ‘Okhotnik’ drone developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau features stealth technology and the flying wing design (it lacks the tail), which reduces its radar signature. According to the data of open sources, the drone has a take-off weight of 20 tonnes and can develop a speed of around 1,000 km/h. The drone’s serial deliveries to the troops are due to begin from 2024.
The Okhotnik heavy attack drone performed its debut flight on August 3, 2019. The flight lasted over 20 minutes under an operator’s control. On September 27, 2019, the Okhotnik performed a flight together with a Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet. The drone maneuvered in the air in automated mode at an altitude of around 1,600 meters and its flight lasted over 30 minutes.
The Motor Design Bureau of the Ufa Motor-Building Production Association (part of the United Engine Corporation), which is engaged in developing an engine for the new drone earlier reported that the Okhotnik second version would be outfitted with a thruster with a new flat nozzle. As the company’s engineers explained, the flat nozzle produced by a 3D printer would reduce the drone’s signature for enemy heat-seeking missiles.
As the UAC earlier told TASS, the latest drone would be capable of operating in conjunction with Su-57 fifth-generation fighters. The Okhotnik drone will be able to strike aerial and ground targets as part of network-centric interaction with the fighter, it specified.
A source in the domestic aircraft-building industry earlier told TASS that a pilot of the Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet would simultaneously coordinate the operations of four latest Okhotnik heavy strike drones. Moreover, a group of drones will most likely be controlled from a new Su-57 special two-seat version, it specified.
According to the data of Russia’s Defense Ministry, during its first joint flight with a Su-57 fighter, the Okhotnik drone operated in automated mode in its full configuration, entering its aerial combat alert area. During the joint flight, the Su-57 and the Okhotnik tested expanding the fighter’s radar field and issuing target acquisition data for employing air-launched weapons, it specified.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in August that the work on the Okhotnik heavy strike drone would hopefully be finished by 2022 and an opportunity would emerge by that time to sign a long-term contract for the delivery of these most advanced drones to the Russian troops. (Source: Tass)
13 Dec 21. The US Navy is testing this adorable sailboat drone. As the U.S. Navy continues to figure out how unmanned drones will play into the future of the fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command began operational testing Sunday of a sailboat-style drone. The sensor-packed Saildrone Explorer being tested in the Gulf of Aqaba off Jordan could provide the Navy with a relatively inexpensive way to expand its sightline, according to a Navy release announcing the testing. The drone is 23 feet long and 16 feet tall and relies on wind power to move. It also houses a sensor package powered by the sun, according to NAVCENT. The vessel was built by the California-based Saildrone company. Other surface drones made by the company have gone out on yearlong data collection missions, and one made a “no-handed” voyage from San Francisco to Hawaii in 34 days back in 2013, according to the company. The Navy hopes the Saildrone’s machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities could provide the fleet with an affordable, zero-carbon tool for seeing over the horizon.
The U.S. Coast Guard began testing Saildrone vessels in the fall of 2020 off Hawaii.
According to the Saildrone company, such vehicles are built for long missions at sea and are equipped with cameras, automated identification receivers and radar or infrared cameras for nocturnal capabilities.
Software onboard recognizes targets of interest and can report those targets back to end users. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
13 Dec 21. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been issued a task order to support the Department of Defense Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) to begin engineering and planning work to reconfigure four United States Air Force EQ-4 Block 20 Global Hawk aircraft for use in the SkyRange fleet of testing vehicles. Northrop Grumman provides support for TRMC’s current fleet of Global Hawk aircraft.
The SkyRange program will equip the four high-altitude, long-endurance EQ-4 aircraft with sensors to demonstrate an alternative data collection support system to support testing U.S. hypersonic systems. Modifications of the Block 20 jets are expected to occur at Northrop Grumman’s Grand Sky facility near Grand Forks, North Dakota.
“The SkyRange program exploits the intrinsic strengths of Global Hawk – altitude, persistence, payload, and flexibility,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, global surveillance, Northrop Grumman. “Grand Sky’s high-tech facility with a modern 35,000 square foot hangar provides the ideal location for engineering modifications to Global Hawk in support of the SkyRange program.”
Today, Global Hawk is the premier autonomous, high-altitude, long-endurance ISR platform for the U.S. Air Force and global partners. To meet future operational needs, Global Hawk is receiving ground station, cyber resiliency and mission planning upgrades for it to deliver intelligence to Combatant Commanders and perform new missions without putting personnel in harm’s way.
10 Dec 21. JODDB demonstrates multicopter UAV for Jordan’s king. The Jordan Design and Development Bureau (JODDB) demonstrated its new multicopter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to King Abdullah II on 6 December. The Royal Hashemite Court (RHC) said the demonstration was part of ongoing field trials of JODDB products in the Al-Ghabawi area of Al-Zarqa province and was also attended by Jordanian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Yousef Ahmed al-Huneiti.
It released a photograph of the multicopter that JODDB unveiled during the Artificial Intelligence Defense Technology and Cyber Security Exhibition and Conference (AIDTSEC) held in Jordan in October. It was displayed with three interchangeable payloads: an RPG-26 rocket launcher, a four-barrel 40 mm grenade launcher, and a grabber device that can be used to pick up and deliver objects or drop explosive devices.
JODDB also displayed a model of a fixed-wing UAV with four rotor blades for vertical take off and landing during AIDTSEC. JODDB sources told Janes that the company has developed three types of military UAVs that it expects to be adopted by the JAF and exported. (Source: Janes)
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