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24 Mar 22. DIMDEX 2022: Turkey’s Dearsan shipyard exhibits armed USV. Turkey’s Dearsan shipyard publicly displayed a model of its armed unmanned surface vessel, named ‘USV 15′, for the first time at the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) 2022, which was held from 21–23 March in Qatar. While there are no current orders, the vessel was launched in January 2022 at its shipyard, a company official told Janes. The vessel launched in January was seen fitted with Simrad navigation radar, but without any armament.
The 14.79m long composite-hulled USV is the first of its class in a family of unmanned vessels that the company plans to unveil following successful trials of the lead vessel. Two diesel engines and two waterjets propel the vessel to a maximum speed of 50 kt and a range of 300n miles at an economic speed. The vessel has a beam of 3.83m and a draught of 0.75m. (Source: Janes)
24 Mar 22. VSR700 autonomous take-off and landing capabilities tested at sea. Airbus Helicopters has begun trialing autonomous take-off and landing capabilities at sea for the VSR700, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) being developed in the frame of the SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) programme, conducted by the DGA (Direction générale de l’Armement – the French Armament General Directorate) for the French Navy . Trials were conducted using an optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) based on a modified Guimbal Cabri G2 equipped with the autonomous take-off and landing (ATOL) system developed for the VSR700. This flight test campaign paves the way for the upcoming demonstration of the VSR700, at sea, onboard a French Navy frigate.
“These tests in real-life conditions constitute a crucial step towards the campaign that we will conduct at sea with the DGA and the French Navy later this year,” explained Nicolas Delmas, head of the VSR700 programme for Airbus Helicopters. “Using the OPV, we have demonstrated the unique autonomous take-off and landing capabilities of the VSR700. We have also proved the optimal functioning of the vehicle and its command station interface on board a vessel in realistic conditions.”
The test campaign was conducted off the coast of Brest, France, onboard a civilian vessel equipped with a helicopter landing deck in the presence of experts from the DGA. Beyond demonstrating the ATOL system developed for the VSR700, the trials were also used to assess the approach procedures before landing on the vessel. The VSR700 flight envelope at sea, in proximity to a vessel, was tested in line with development objectives and was confirmed to be fully compatible with naval operations. Both the semi-autonomous and the fully autonomous modes of the ATOL system were demonstrated with success in different sea states. The VSR700 uses Airbus DeckFinder to enable autonomous ship deck take off and landings in all weather conditions, during the day or night. In total, 150 autonomous launches and recoveries took place. The handling and maneuvering of the OPV, representative of the VSR700, on the ship deck were also tested.
The OPV can carry one test pilot in order to enable safer and more agile initial testing before those systems are integrated into the fully autonomous VSR700. The OPV initially conducted piloted take-offs and landings before switching progressively to fully autonomous maneuvers.
Designed to operate alongside other shipborne naval assets, the VSR700 is a UAS in the 500-1,000 kg maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.
The first prototype of the VSR700 performed its maiden flight in 2020 and expanded its flight envelope in 2021. In April 2021, the DGA ordered a second prototype of the VSR700 to focus on trials covering SDAM requirements and to permit broader, more rapid development towards that goal.
23 Mar 22. HAL loyal wingman project to go airborne by 2024. A loyal wingman programme being developed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is on schedule to see flight-testing by 2024. Known as the Combat Air Teaming System (CATS) Warrior, the project began in 2018 and was showcased during Aero India 2021. The company described the Warrior as a twin-engined autonomous, unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). The aircraft is intended to operate behind or alongside manned fighter aircraft to protect their tails. The UCAV is being designed to attack aerial and ground targets. According to an HAL source, the project has advanced since Aero India 2021. “The CATS Warrior is currently in wind tunnel testing. Our original timetable for deployment was 2024–25 and we expect flight testing of the CATS Warrior to start in 2024,” the source told Janes. (Source: Janes)
23 Mar 22. Aussies aim for $1bn in exports of Loyal Wingman, now ‘Ghost Bat.’ “Selecting the Ghost Bat, an Australian native mammal known for teaming together in a pack to detect and hunt, reflects the unique characteristics of the aircraft’s sensors and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance abilities, and is a fitting name for this pioneering capability,” Glen Ferguson of Boeing said. Australia, clearly thrilled by its apparent success in designing and building a new aircraft for the first time in 50 years, is eagerly aiming for substantial export sales of the Loyal Wingman drone system.
Peter Dutton, Australia’s defense minister, made a point of showing up at the naming ceremony for the Loyal Wingman, now known as the “Ghost Bat” after an Australian critter.
”This is, you know, potentially a billion dollar export for us. And there are many hundreds, if not thousands of jobs that come with the maintenance, the upgrades that go with those aircraft,” Dutton said here of the aircraft, which went through design and development in just three years. “All of that is a very significant undertaking. And it’s not just that the manufacturing now and the export potential but it’s to get it to this point.”
So far, Boeing and the RAAF have built six MQ-28 Ghost Bats, as it’s formally designated. While some have flown, the fleet is now undergoing extensive ground testing.
“Selecting the Ghost Bat, an Australian native mammal known for teaming together in a pack to detect and hunt, reflects the unique characteristics of the aircraft’s sensors and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance abilities, and is a fitting name for this pioneering capability,” Glen Ferguson, who heads the program for Boeing, said at the Monday morning ceremony here.
With the Australian federal budget due next Tuesday, Breaking Defense asked Dutton how many Ghost Bats the government planned to fund. He did not give a direct answer, saying only that ”There is a great utility in having scale and being able to launch an aircraft like this, because it complements what we’re doing with our fast jets and our other assets on water on land.”
That would seem to indicate Australia may well be looking at producing dozens of the Ghost Bat in the next five years, especially if they want to maximize scale as they begin to make foreign sales.
One of the intriguing things about the aircraft is that the nose is essentially a separate assembly. According to Ferguson, Boeing is telling potential customers that they have two choices: have Boeing do the sensor package, or take the nose and insert your own sensor setup. (Ferguson would not identify any potential customers.)
The aircraft uses an open architecture to facilitate integration. While the aircraft can work with sensors and systems from a wide range of countries, it also incorporates components from a number of countries, so Boeing will have to comply with relevant export controls when it’s approached by a customer, Ferguson said.
Boeing is building a factory to turn out large numbers of the aircraft in the town of Toowoomba’s Welcamp Airport, the first of its kind outside the United States. The factory is not far from Air base Amberley, where the first six planes have been built. It’s worth noting that the state of Queensland, where Toowoomba is located, is a crucial battleground for the upcoming elections here; Dutton’s claims of “thousands” of jobs need to be taken in that context.
One of the intriguing things about the drone program is that it is moving at such speed — from nothing to flight and ground testing in three years — that it’s not even clear if there will be any conventional acquisition milestones, such as full production. Instead, after years and years of discussions in Washington and elsewhere about spiral acquisition and upgrades as they path forward for faster acquisition, the Loyal Wingman program appears to actually be doing it effectively. Ferguson said they expect to do unsubstantial upgrades every two years “to get to a next generation of airframes.”
Overall, the Boeing executive said the Australian government’s commitment to the Ghost Bat program “has been unparalleled.” On such a fast-moving program, with the attendant risks, that may be a requirement for it to succeed. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
23 Mar 22. Alpine 4 Holdings (ALPP) Subsidiary Vayu Aerospace Corporation and ENSCO Enter into a Drone Sales Agreement for Its US-1 Long Flight Duration Drone. Alpine 4 Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALPP), a leading operator and owner of small market businesses announced today that its subsidiary, Vayu Aerospace Corporation (VAYU) and ENSCO have entered into a procurement agreement to acquire the US-1 drone for its operations in the United States. Vayu has developed several use case applications for the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and several industrial sectors including rail and energy.
Vayu’s President, TK Eppley commented, “When I was hired 9 months ago, I was tasked with building out a drone production facility. As we sell through our remaining US-1’s, we continue to progress on the development of the US-2 and have created the capabilities to manufacture G1 aircraft faster than ever before. It’s incredibly gratifying to be fulfilling orders and to be doing business with a company of Ensco’s caliber.”
Kent Wilson, CEO of Alpine 4, had this to say, “TK and his team have done a great job professionalizing the airframes Vayu offers. When we hired TK last summer, we made the decision to proactively remove all Chinese electrical components from our drones. This process has led us to a point where we are actively selling our airframes to customers like Ensco and are able to provide airframes to the US government and companies that need a true US manufactured and component sourced product. We congratulate TK and his team for a job well done!”
ENSCO is a provider of engineering, science, and advanced technology equipment for the defense, security, transportation, and aerospace industries.
About Alpine 4 Holdings: Alpine 4 Holdings, Inc. (ALPP) is a NASDAQ traded conglomerate that acquires businesses that fit into its disruptive DSF business model of Drivers, Stabilizers, and Facilitators. At Alpine 4, we understand the nature of how technology and innovation can accentuate a business. Our focus is on how the adaptation of new technologies, even in brick-and-mortar businesses, can drive innovation. We also believe that our holdings should benefit synergistically from each other, have the ability to collaborate across varying industries, spawn new ideas, and create fertile ground for competitive advantages.
Four principles at the core of our business are Synergy. Innovation. Drive. Excellence. At Alpine 4, we believe synergistic innovation drives excellence. By anchoring these words to our combined experience and capabilities, we can aggressively pursue opportunities within and across vertical markets. We deliver solutions that not only drive industry standards, but also increase value for our shareholders. (Source: PR Newswire)
21 Mar 22. USN moving ahead with HII for small UUV program. The selection of Remus 300 for the Lionfish program is a big win for HII, which has spent much of recent years positioning itself for the unmanned systems market. Navy is preparing to purchase “multiple production lots” of a small unmanned undersea system from Huntington Ingalls Industries. The service announced its intent to buy HII’s drone, the Remus 300, for its Lionfish SUUV program in a presolicitation notice published on Friday. Presolicitation notices are routine announcements the military makes prior to most weapon systems acquisitions but do not imply any money has changed hands yet. HII and L3Harris were both under consideration for the program and participated last year in operational evaluations hosted by the Defense Innovation Unit. Although the public notice says the service will move forward with HII, it is not clear whether the Navy could still award further contracts to L3Harris. The military does occasionally award contracts to multiple vendors following technology evaluations.
Part of the Navy’s planned family of systems, Lionfish’s main role will be intelligence gathering with the Navy’s expeditionary mine countermeasures company. As its name suggests, the SUUV is only 150 pounds and requires just a few sailors to deploy it. It will be based on HII’s Remus 300, a “man-portable UUV” that is “designed for modularity… [and] can be reconfigured with a range of sensors and payloads to meet mission requirements,” according to a statement the company published last year when announcing the government of New Zealand had ordered four UUVs.
Contacted today by Breaking Defense, a company spokesman could not immediately comment on the Navy’s notice.
Being selected to fulfill the Lionfish program is a big win for HII, which has spent recent years making aggressive moves to better position itself to compete in the unmanned systems market.
Capt. Dan Malatesta, the officer overseeing the Lionfish program, said last year that the drone’s predecessor, the Mk 18 Mod 1 Swordfish vehicle, has “maxed out its capability for computing power and those sorts of things,” Defense News reported.
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The announcement comes just days after President Joe Biden signed the Pentagon’s fiscal 2022 budget into law — a factor that likely held up the Navy’s announcement as well as a bevy of other military contract actions — and follows Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday’s remarks that he wants to bring more unmanned systems to the fleet in the short term.
Beyond making a decision following DIU’s competition, Navy budget justification documents state the service this year will focus on developing, integrating and testing various sonar technologies for the drone as well as bringing it into compliance with the Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture, an overarching technology document that aims to standardize the technologies onboard all Navy unmanned vessels. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
17 Mar 22. EASA publishes a means of compliance for Special ‘light UAS’ for consultation. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published for consultation a means of compliance (MoC) that will allow demonstration of the safety of design of a drone through a Functional Test based approach. This will increase flexibility by allowing drones manufacturers to use the in-service experience accumulated by its fleet instead of demonstrating compliance by designing the drone using standards.
The Proposed Means of Compliance to Special Condition Light UAS for UAS operated in SAIL III and below “FTB MOC SC Light-UAS” – Issue 01 is available.
The deadline for comments is 4 April 2022.
Point of contact: For more information visit: www.easa.europa.eu (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
21 Mar 22. Boeing’s Australian-Produced Uncrewed Aircraft to be Named ‘MQ-28A Ghost Bat.’ Boeing [NYSE:BA] Australia congratulates the Australian Government and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on their selection of ‘MQ-28A Ghost Bat’ as the military designator and name for the first Australian-produced military combat aircraft in over 50 years.
Australia’s Defence Minister, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, announced the designator and name at a dedicated ceremony held at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland.
“The introduction of the new popular name is a rare and special moment in aviation history for our RAAF partners and industry team of over 35 Australian suppliers,” said Glen Ferguson, director Airpower Teaming System Australia and International.
“Selecting the Ghost Bat, an Australian native mammal known for teaming together in a pack to detect and hunt, reflects the unique characteristics of the aircraft’s sensors and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance abilities, and is a fitting name for this pioneering capability,” said Ferguson.
With a rapid development timetable of just three years from ideation to first flight, the development program leverages advancements in digital engineering, advanced manufacturing and unique Australian supply chain technologies.
While the RAAF Loyal Wingman development program name will phase out, Boeing’s product name for global customers will remain the Airpower Teaming System.
“Our enduring partnership with Commonwealth of Australia and Australian Defence Force (ADF) is fundamental to the successful development of MQ-28A’s complex technologies and capabilities, and has global export potential for Australia,” said Dr Brendan Nelson AO, president Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific.
During 2022, the program will continue to accelerate the development and testing of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat, with a focus on sensor and missionisation capabilities to deliver on RAAF commitments. These requirements will continue to expand as Boeing moves towards the aim of delivering an operational capability for the ADF.
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