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07 Oct 22. Australia’s 1st Triton Touches Down. Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft System was rolled out in September as part of a partnership between the Department of Defence, US Navy and Northrop Grumman.
Head Aerospace Systems Division in the Capability and Sustainment Group, Air Vice Marshal Leon Phillips, said the partnership will allow for not only intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance roles but it will support a broad range of joint effects and fully integrate into Air Force’s combat architecture.
“In working together with the US Navy and Defence industry partner Northrop Grumman to develop capability requirements for this aircraft, we are pushing the boundaries of air power to pursue a truly advanced platform that will provide both a foundational capability and a growth path for future decades,” Air Vice Marshal Phillips said.
“Once in service, the remotely piloted High Altitude Long Endurance aerial system will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia’s north and north-western approaches, in the south-west Pacific and south to Antarctica.
“Triton will complement the surveillance role of the P-8A Poseidon by providing sustained operations at long ranges, as well as being able to undertake a range of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.”
Defence expects the first of up to seven Australian MQ-4C Triton aircraft, including the relevant ground and support systems, to be completed and delivered to Australia in 2024. (Source: ASD Network)
06 Oct 22. Acceptance Test Procedures (ATP) for the first Protector RG Mk1 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) system has been completed. Completion of ATP allowed for the official hand-over of the aircraft to the UK Royal Air Force (RAF), the launch customer of the MQ-9B RPA system developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI). Protector is a specially configured model of MQ-9B, designed to meet the unique requirements of the RAF.
The aircraft was accepted by Air Vice Marshal Simon Ellard, Director Combat Air at Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm of the UK Ministry of Defence. “It was a great pleasure to accept the official handover of the first Protector aircraft on behalf of the MOD, following the successful completion of Acceptance Test Procedures. We now look forward to the first delivery of this highly capable aircraft type to RAF Waddington during 2023,” he said.
RAF Air Commodore Alex Hicks said: “The acceptance of the first Protector aircraft is a significant and exciting milestone in the delivery of this world-class capability to the Royal Air Force. The aircraft will be used to train RAF technicians how to maintain the capability, prior to the arrival of the first aircraft in the UK next year.”
ATP was performed jointly by the UK Ministry of Defence and GA-ASI following the completion of the aircraft production and acceptance procedures. ATP includes all inspections and tests performed on the hardware in operation for the aircraft and in conformance with the functional specification and technical requirements. Over the past two months, ATP has been performed at GA-ASI’s Desert Horizon flight operations facility in El Mirage, Calif. The aircraft will remain in the U.S. to support maintenance and pilot training.
ATP was also completed on the first two sets of Portable Pre-flight and Post-flight Equipment (P3Es). P3E is laptop size ground support equipment that enables SATCOM Automatic Taxi, Takeoff and Landing Capability from anywhere in the world greatly reducing the personnel and equipment fielding footprint. This game-changing capability eliminates forward based launch and recovery crew/hardware/maintainers, as well as providing agile deployment with emergency divert field landing. Additionally the P3E doubles as ground support equipment when directly connected to the aircraft.
“This is another major milestone for MQ-9B and the Protector program,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “The Royal Air Force has been a great partner for General Atomics, and we’re thrilled to see ATP completed for this first customer aircraft.”
MQ-9B represents the next generation of RPA systems, having demonstrated airborne endurance of more than 40 hours in certain configurations, as well as a GA-ASI developed Detect and Avoid system. Its development is the result of a company-funded effort to deliver an RPA that can meet the stringent airworthiness certification requirements of various military and civil authorities.
MQ-9B has garnered significant interest from customers throughout the world. After the UK Ministry of Defence selected MQ-9B SkyGuardian® for its Protector program, the Belgian Ministry of Defense signed a contract for SkyGuardian. Later this year, the Japan Coast Guard will begin operations using the MQ-9B in the SeaGuardian® configuration.
06 Oct 22. Dufour Aerospace and RUAG to Cooperate on UAVs. Dufour Aerospace AG and RUAG AG have announced that they will begin cooperation on the development of Aero2. The Aero2 is Dufour’s unmanned aerial vehicle that can take-off and land vertically like a helicopter, but flies as fast and as energy efficient as a fixed wing aircraft.
RUAG will initially provide engineering services to Dufour; the partnership is intended to develop into a long-term strategic partnership in the field of development, manufacture and maintenance of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) and components. The partnership will enable both companies to exchange technology and know-how in order to establish successful products and services in the market.
RUAG will assist with the design and testing of the structure of the aircraft, the further development and testing of the propulsion system, and the development and integration of avionics and automated flight systems. Thomas Kipfer, Senior Vice President of RUAG Business Area Air:
“We are excited to start working with Dufour Aerospace. There is the potential for numerous synergies between Dufour and RUAG. We believe the eVTOL market will be transformational for manned and unmanned aviation, and we’ve been looking for an OEM partner to further develop and apply our technology and expertise for this market. With Dufour we’ve found a company with credible technology in an advanced development stage, a strong team and a clear plan to become a key player in this market.” Thomas Pfammatter, CEO and co-founder of Dufour Aerospace, said:
“This cooperation with RUAG is an important milestone for Dufour Aerospace. With their experience and knowledge, RUAG can support our development programs in multiple areas. RUAG is a leader in aeronautical engineering, they have state-of-the-art infrastructure, and a great team of innovative and dedicated engineers. We are very pleased that RUAG believes in the future of hybrid-electric tilt-wing aircraft.”
For sovereign security. At RUAG we make a significant contribution to Swiss security. As a future-oriented technology partner, our priorities are innovation (developing new skills, new processes and new business models), the integration of new technologies in existing areas and systems, life-cycle management, and ensuring the availability of military and security systems.
Our extensive product and service portfolio does not just include the provision of trusted information and communication solutions. We also make an important contribution to the availability of fighter jets, helicopters and anti-aircraft defense, as well as wheeled and tracked vehicles.
RUAG is a private-law company under the ownership of the Swiss Confederation. In addition to our main contracting authority, the Swiss Armed Forces, our other customers are mainly national and international armed forces, government agencies and civil security authorities.
About Dufour Aerospace
Dufour Aerospace develops efficient and ecological aircraft for patient and passenger transport, logistics and public safety. Dufour Aerospace relies on the tilt-wing principle: the tilt-wing aircraft Aero3, which is currently under development, takes off and lands vertically in the smallest space like a helicopter, but flies as fast and economically as an airplane.
While the propellers are electrically driven, hybrid elements (conventional turbine or fuel cells) ensure a sufficiently long range (hybrid propulsion). In addition to the Aero3, Dufour Aerospace is also developing the Aero2, an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) that is also based on the tilt-wing principle.
(Source: UAS VISION)
05 Oct 22. Austal Australia to Undertake Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial for RAN. Austal Australia has taken possession of a de-commissioned Armidale-class Patrol Boat (ACPB), the former HMAS Maitland, from the Commonwealth of Australia, to commence planning, modification, and test and evaluation of autonomous and remotely operated systems.
The Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial (PBAT) is a collaboration between Austal, Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre and the Royal Australian Navy Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch. The Trial will establish robotic, automated and autonomous elements on a patrol boat, providing a proof-of-concept demonstrator, for optionally crewed or autonomous operations for the RAN into the future. The Trial will also explore the legal, regulatory pathways and requirements of operating an autonomous vessel at sea.
PBAT couples Austal’s experience as the expert designer and manufacturer of the Armidale-class Patrol Boat (ACPB), with subcontractor L3Harris’ experience as a world leader in autonomous vessel technology. With co-funding from the Commonwealth of Australia, guidance and support is provided from the Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative
Following the arrival of the vessel in Henderson, Western Australia, the re-named ‘Sentinel’ has entered the Trial’s ‘modification phase’; which includes the fitting of a variety of monitoring and control systems and technologies that enables autonomous and remote operations. From July 2023 the vessel is expected to be registered under Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) jurisdiction as a domestic commercial vessel to enable sea trials to commence October 2023.
The PBAT project aims to:
- Significantly progress the concept of remote operations and the autonomous certification approach;
- Increase the understanding of fuel management, communication, and navigation systems to be made autonomous;
- Investigate and understand the sustained operation of shipboard mechanical systems without crew intervention, including systems of redundancy and reliability to support operations at sea for extended periods;
- Provide input to long-term risk reduction for future naval projects, considering remote or autonomous vessels. This will be extended to other sensors and autonomous vehicles once the initial trial is complete; and
- Transfer lessons learned on the application of remote or autonomous systems to the Royal Australian Navy’s current fleet to potentially optimise crew workload. Remote and autonomous operation has the potential to reduce crew workload and increase operational safety by reducing human error.
Austal Limited Chief Executive Officer Paddy Greg said, “Austal understands the future of Australia’s maritime capability will partly depend on how quickly our naval enterprise can better understand and integrate autonomous and remotely operated vessels.”
“Austal are pleased to be at the heart of Australia’s autonomous naval journey, working with our Industry partners, Navy and the Commonwealth, to complete the modification and trials, and share this data to improve the wider knowledge base.”
“Our expert staff are excited to be working to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in this autonomous and robotic space.
“Austal always strive to improve our designs and build ships that outsmart Australia’s adversaries, delivering capability into the hands of the Australian Defence Force to improve their ability to fight and win at sea,” Mr Gregg said.
In late 2020 the Australian Defence Force issued a Joint Concept on Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS). The Concept defines RAS in terms of both the threats and opportunities it provides across all operating environments (land, sea, and air).
In parallel, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) released the Robotics and Autonomous Systems-Artificial Intelligence (RAS-AI) 2040 Strategy outlining its vision for “a fighting and thinking Navy” that embraces RAS-AI, to transform and improve its ability to fight and win at sea.
(Source: ASD Network)
03 Oct 22. Aselsan, Sefine team up again on uncrewed electronic warfare vessel. A two-company partnership developed “the world’s first unmanned surface vessel with electronic warfare capabilities,” according to Turkey’s top procurement official, Ismail Demir.
“After the SİHAs (unmanned combat aerial vehicles), which have proven to be game changers on the field, Turkey is now asserting its claim with its SİDAs (unmanned surface vessels, or USVs),” he said in a tweet. “Marlin SİDA became the first unmanned surface vehicle with electronic warfare capabilities.”
Demir tweeted and shared a maneuver video of the watercraft on the sea. The Marlin SIDA was developed by a partnership between Aselsan, Turkey’s biggest defense company and Sefine, a privately owned shipyard.
With a length of 15 meters (49 feet), the Marlin SİDA can participate in surface warfare, underwater warfare, electronic warfare and asymmetrical operations. Industry sources say the Marlin SİDA, which can be used more flexibly than gunboats, is the first in the world with its warfare systems.
The Marlin SİDA is planned to be used in naval warfare operations for off-shore and open sea defensive and offensive missions.
In 2021, Aselsan and Sefine held a “steel-cutting event” for an anti-submarine warfare drone dubbed NB57. They also held a ceremony for the first welding of an anti-surface warfare variant, the RD09.
Sefine began the USV work in 2019 in cooperation with the Presidency of Defence Industries, Turkey’s defense procurement agency. Aselsan joined the program in 2021. (Source: Defense News)
03 Oct 22. Elbit Systems UK’s Seagull™ USV achieves 100% success rate in Royal Navy’s Mine Hunting WISEX trials. Elbit Systems UK recently conducted successful demonstrations of its Seagull™ Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) to showcase its proven autonomous mine hunting technology for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). The Wilton Industry Show and Experiment (WISEX) demonstrations aimed to provide MOD and industry partners with an analysis of Seagull™’s mine hunting capabilities under operational conditions. The WISEX demonstrations took place off the coast of Scotland and Seagull™ achieved a 100% target detection rate.
As part of the Royal Navy’s transition towards an autonomous Mine Hunting Capability, MOD invited Elbit Systems UK to demonstrate Seagull™ and her Mine Countermeasure (MCM) toolbox sub-systems under operational conditions – involving key environmental variables, such as differing depths, currents and tidal streams – in UK Waters in Scotland. The demonstrations took place in July and August and involved showcasing specific capability to provide the Royal Navy with the evidence required to inform the progress of its Mine Hunting Capability Programme. Co-sponsored by Navy DEVELOP and Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), the demonstrations were also supported by Dstl stakeholders.
The demonstration area comprised two simulated minefields seeded with mine-like objects to challenge Seagull™’s detection and MCM capabilities. Despite the demanding sea state, the demonstrations were a resounding success, with the Seagull™ USV and her mission system payloads achieving a target detection and identification rate of 100%.
Seagull™ is the only operationally proven USV currently available in the world, and it can be deployed for a variety of crewed and uncrewed missions. Modular and agnostic in design, Seagull™’s mission system payloads can be used to support Mine Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare, Electronic Warfare and ISR operations – providing navies with a full spectrum of autonomous operational capability. Additionally, its Mission Command Station can be operated from a mothership, from a headquarters, or transported in a mission module vehicle to a remote location onshore – as was the case during the WISEX demonstrations.
Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK, said: “The great success of the Seagull™ trials proves that Elbit Systems UK is spearheading USV technology globally, and that our cutting-edge autonomous maritime technology offers innovative and consistent results. These demonstrations provided the Royal Navy with the evidence necessary to inform the requirements of MOD’s programme development trials, and further highlights our continued commitment to developing technology designed to safeguard our Armed Forces.”
Commander Ben Stait said: “The Royal Navy has established WISEX to allow industry to demonstrate their autonomous mine countermeasures systems, in the challenging naval exercise areas of the west coast of Scotland. This demonstration is part of the Mine Hunting Capability programme, which is at the forefront of next generation maritime autonomous systems. The Royal Navy is grateful for Elbit Systems UK participation and excited by the capability they demonstrated as the programme develops into its next phase.”
03 Oct 22. ADASI readies newest loitering munitions for production. Autonomous systems specialist ADASI expects to complete the development of its QX-1 and QX-3 loitering munitions in “one to two months’ time”. Speaking during a media briefing on 22 September, Mohamed Al Nuaimi, senior programme manager, engineering and technology, at ADASI, said that the systems are undergoing final qualification tests ahead of entering production. The QX series uses quadcopter base platforms and is designed to support forces operating at the tactical level of the battlespace, providing a precision target engagement capability. Rather than being loitering munitions per se, the larger QX-2 and QX-3 systems are designed to carry gravity-dropped bombs and conduct multiple missions, while the QX-1 is a ‘kamikaze’ system with an integrated warhead.
Al Nuaimi said that the QX-2 is in production and has been delivered to the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) armed forces. It can carry a single 1.5 kg bomb, while the QX-3 will be capable of operating with four. Al Nuaimi said that the guidance kits that are fitted to the warheads are a differentiator over similar systems that drop unguided munitions. (Source: Janes)
034Oct 22. France to receive long-awaited Patroller UAVs. The Tactical Drone System (Système de Drone Tactique: SDT) for the French Army is soon to achieve a major milestone with delivery of the first Safran Electronics & Defense Patroller fixed-wing tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the French defence procurement agency (Direction générale de l’armement: DGA). An initial five UAVs and two ground control stations will be delivered to the DGA in December, the company’s press officer, Pascal Debergé, told Janes. The company was awarded a EUR350m (USD343m) contract on 5 April 2016 to supply 14 Patroller UAVs, six ground control stations, and associated training and support to increase the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability of the 61st Artillery Regiment, replacing the Safran Sperwer UAV.
The Patroller is a medium-altitude, long-endurance platform based on the Stemme ECARYS ES15 utility aircraft that can operate for up to 15 hours at an altitude of 16,000 ft, with a line-of-sight range of 180 km and a maximum speed of 200 km/h. (Source: Janes)
03 Oct 22. Morocco flying BlueBird UAVs. The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces are using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) made by the Israeli company BlueBird Aero Systems, it was confirmed during the ‘Maroc Mantlet 2022′ disaster-response exercise. Local media coverage of the exercise held at the 3rd Royal Air Force Base in Kénitra from 12 to 22 September showed Moroccan personnel displaying a WanderB with a second one disassembled in its box and a ground data terminal, which links the UAV to the portable control station. The WanderB-vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV is a smaller version of BlueBird’s ThunderB-VTOL UAV. Designed for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), both types are fitted with four rotors for VTOL, as well as a pusher propeller for horizontal flight. (Source: Janes)
03 Oct 22. Havelsan Unveils Upgraded Baha UCAV at Africa Aerospace and Defence 2022 Expo. Turkey’s Havelsan exhibited its latest iteration of indigenously developed fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) swarm-capable autonomous Baha unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2022 expo, held from 21 to 25 September, in South Africa.
Baha (Bulut Alti Insansiz Hava Araci) is a prototype of a sub-cloud autonomous vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicle developed for the needs of the border security forces.
BAHA is a part of HAVELSAN’s crucial project, HAVELSAN R&D and Engineering Director Mehmet Onur Özçelik stated that when BAHA first emerged, it was a platform used to test our domestic and national autopilot software and swarm algorithms.
The main purpose of continuing BAHA’s tests was primarily to accurately define, see and test the needs of our armed forces in the region. By the way, this test platform itself has also been developed and improved.
BAHA was Upgraded
This work on BAHA has been completed and BAHA has been updated. Currently, our flight tests are being carried out with a platform with completely different features as a new design, and it has been stated that the presence in the field will continue to test this platform a lot. BAHA is not just a product designed for our armed forces, it is one of our products that we want to export to our friendly and allied countries.
In this context, this product is introduced to many countries at different events. Tests and demo studies related to this are ongoing.
BAHA is able to detect and diagnose very remotely
The new BAHA has many features, and one of the most important is that it can now fly in unsuitable weather conditions. In this context, it will be able to fly in certain rain and precipitation conditions, especially with its impermeability feature in cold weather.
In addition, as an imaging system, there will be electro-optical systems with cameras that are much more advanced and capable of detecting and diagnosing from a much longer distance.
It will be on solutions that will enable BAHA to fly stably in an environment where there is compression. In order to develop these, HAVELSAN has carried out many test activities in the field. The production of the new prototype is finished and user demo studies have now started in flight tests. It is foreseen that it will be put into use together with the digital unity project in the coming period.
The Digital Unity Project is a project consisting of unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned land vehicles and unmanned sea vehicles. Together with the command and control system developed by HAVELSAN behind it, it actually constitutes the infrastructure of the future combat system as a fully integrated system. In this context, HAVELSAN has serious product studies.
BAHA has a 90 percent locality rate. Its design is completely domestic and its body is produced entirely by our domestic companies. The components used in its content are mostly purchased from domestic companies. It was also stated that testing and performance tests are continuing intensively on BAHA’s new platforms that can carry different types and weights of payloads. Work continues at full speed for new agreements at home and abroad.
It was reported that the UAV successfully completed the flight test in an altitude of 7,500 ft (2,300 m) at a distance of 10 km (6.2 mi) far from the Ground Support Center.
The latest design of Baha includes a boom-mounted T-tail instead of earlier exercised boom-mounted inverted V-tail. The Baha is operated from a land vehicle. A further development for the central control of a swarm of 20-30 UAVs, each operated from one land vehicle, is in progress. It has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 30 kg (66 lb) and its payload capacity is 6 kg (13 lb). (Source: UAS VISION/Military Leak)
30 Sep 22. S-Plane to convert Mwari to optionally piloted aircraft. The memorandum of understanding was announced during Africa Aerospace and Defence 2022 by Paramount, which said the agreement also covered S-Plane’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission solutions.
S-Plane’s X-KIT converts manned and unmanned aircraft into complete certified optionally piloted vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles or manned airborne ISR systems. It will enable the Mwari to address both unmanned aerial support and optionally piloted aircraft operations, with the autonomous systems to be applied throughout the Mwari’s architecture, equipment, subsystems, and interfaces.
S-Plane has been creating certification-ready solutions for manned and unmanned ISR systems for the past 14 years. The company’s X-KIT is, for example, used to convert Indra’s Targus optionally piloted aircraft from a Tecnam P2006T aircraft, by Airbus UpNext for remote control of a Cessna Citation VII business jet for their Extra Performance Wing project and to create the manned Helix ISR system.
Thomas Jones, CEO at S-Plane, stated that, “This wide-ranging collaboration with Paramount is testimony to the exceptional and complementary products, technologies and capabilities of our companies and a shared vision of the future. We especially look forward to welcoming the Mwari to our stable of OPS (Optionally Piloted System) conversions. Enhanced automation is the inevitable next evolution for land, sea and air vehicles and allows aircraft such as the Mwari to achieve their full potential.”
“The X-KIT’s ParagonISR integration within the Mwari’s existing onboard computer will also unlock maximum ISR capabilities and interfacing throughout the flight envelope and in the theatre of aerial reconnaissance, surveillance, and engagement,” Paramount said.
ParagonISR allows payload operators to view, manage and fuse the outputs of various sensor payloads. It provides features such as payload stream geolocation and projection, mission sharing and sensor coverage. ParagonISR optimises payload application and mission execution in real-time, according to S-Plane.
Steve Griessel, CEO of Paramount Group, stated that, “We are excited to celebrate South African innovation and indigenous technological prowess by way of the signing of this memorandum of understanding, alongside our partners at S-Plane. In doing so, we are not only enhancing the already incredible ISR and operational capabilities of the Mwari, but also strengthening the country’s commitment to aerospace excellence.
“Paramount and S-Plane seek to additionally collaborate in future with respect to various strategic initiatives and projects across the companies’ land, sea and air portfolios, leveraging the strengths of both organisations in their respective focus areas,” he added.
The Mwari has been under development for a decade, and is about to be delivered to a launch customer. Four aircraft are on the production line at the Wonderboom Airport factory – Paramount has orders for nine of the aircraft.
Mwari has been designed to easily perform multiple missions thanks to an innovative Interchangeable Mission Systems Bay (IMSB), located in the belly of the aircraft, providing near-endless sensor and payload options which can be integrated and be swapped out in less than two hours. Open-architecture and flexible systems allows for the quick and low-cost integration of new pods, avionics, cargo, special mission equipment, weapons and sensors.
Mwari has a service ceiling of up to 31 000 feet, and offers a maximum cruise speed of 250 knots, a mission range of up to 550 nautical miles with ordinance and an overall endurance of up to 6.5 hours. The aircraft also offers a short take-off and landing (STOL) capability, with retractable landing gear optimised for both semi and unprepared airstrips or sites.
Mwari has been designed with portable production in mind. The aircraft could, depending on customer requirements, be exported in kit format for final assembly in customer countries and can easily integrate into supply chains around the world, enabling scalable mass production.
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