Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
19 Jan 23. China boosts military UAV development with new R&D facility.
Aerospace Times Feihong Technology Corporation (Feihong), a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), announced on 10 January that it is building a new integrated research and engineering facility for next-generation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development.
Feihong is an offshoot of CASC’s Ninth Academy, also known as the 13th Institute or China Aerospace Times Electronics Corporation (CATEC).
The new facility will be operated by a newly incorporated entity called Aerospace Times Feihong Testing Technology Company, which was set up in Baotou City in Inner Mongolia. According to Feihong, the new entity will also perform flight testing, training, and maintenance support.
“The [new facility] will promote the interconnection and efficient utilisation of unmanned technology resources in various units and fields such as universities, scientific research institutes and users, to enhance the integration of industry-university-research capabilities, lead the development of cutting-edge technologies for unmanned systems such as simulation and integration, artificial intelligence, and digital twins, and provide strong support for promoting the innovation and development of China’s unmanned system industry,” the company said.
Earlier at the Airshow China exhibition in November 2022, Feihong unveiled a new variant of its Feihong-97 (FH-97) loyal wingman UAV featuring several visible design updates from the version shown at Airshow China 2021, which appears to have been inspired by the US-made Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie.
The FH-97A recently showcased, however, featured engine inlets on either side of the aircraft as opposed to the single large Valkyrie-type air inlet on the top of the FH-97. The newer model’s wings have also been visibly modified.
Conceptual imagery depicts the FH-97/97A as an attritable, deep penetration unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) that can be used to support tactical aircraft as a forward-deployed scout or strike platform. For example, its internal weapons bay can accommodate several FH-901 Loitering Missiles, which are comparable with loitering munitions such as the US-produced AeroVironment Switchblade, which can be employed against air defence systems and soft-skinned vehicles. (Source: AMR)
20 Jan 23. Exail’s DriX USV takes part in EX Digital Horizon 22 in Bahrain.
French undersea autonomy specialist Exail took part in the US Navy’s recent Digital Horizon Unmanned & Artificial Intelligence Exercise in Bahrain. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet held the three-week exercise in December to test new unmanned technologies, as part of its plans to establish the world’s first Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) fleet of 100 drones in the Gulf by the end of the northern summer.
The current geopolitical situation means that manned assets are in increasing demand elsewhere, leading the Navy to look to the latest unmanned technologies to expand its capabilities. Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, set up Task Force 59 last year to speed new tech integration across the 5th Fleet, and seek alternative, cost-effective solutions for conducting Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) missions. Maritime Domain Awareness can be defined as the effective understanding of military and non-military events in the maritime environment that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of a nation or a region.
Exail’s DriX USV was among the 15 USVs and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) selected to participate in the exercise, which staged a Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) mission. The company is a contender for the RAN’s autonomous Mine Counter-Measures program, Project SEA1905.
“We’re very happy about the feedback from the TF59 on DriX’s performance,” said Guillaume Eudeline, Exail’s Naval Autonomy Market Director. “For the first time DriX integrated a multiple unmanned collaborative military organisation, alongside some of the industry’s best. It was a real success and we are proud to have collaborated in this group effort, which showed what unmanned technologies can bring to MDA.”
The USVs and UAVs were tasked with gathering data on the surface in order to detect and identify potential threats. One of the main requirements was for the drones to communicate with each other using a common OPS system. The complementarity aspect of the different drones was also important, as the 5th Fleet aims to leverage the different capacities of each drone to cover a wide array of competencies in order to produce a Common Operating Picture of what is occurring in a specific sea area.
With its highly hydrodynamic monohull and drop keel, DriX showed high reliability with excellent seakeeping and speed results, accomplishing its mission of gathering data on the surface and proving its capacity to successfully integrate third party radar and cameras. The ability of DriX to integrate within a military communications network was successfully proven, thanks to its wide range of communication means (including Certus, 4G, Wifi and Silvus). The USV further meets requirements in terms of communications redundancy, crucial for minimising risk during military operations, and is fitted with an advanced collision avoidance system that ensures robust and safe autonomous navigation at sea. (Source: Rumour Control)
19 Jan 23. Greece to Build New Advanced Drone Called ‘the Griffin.’
On January 12th at the Ministry of Finance, in the presence of the Minister of Finance Mr. Christos Staikouras and the Minister of National Defense Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, the memorandum of cooperation was signed between the management of the Hellenic Aviation Industry (EAB) and the rector’s authorities of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki , of the University of Patras, the Democritus University of Thrace and the University of Thessaly for the design and industrial production of a second, more complex unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) for a variety of uses.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the implementation of the new program, which bears the name “Grypas” – after the mythological being, which was a symbol of power – began on Monday, January 16, taking advantage of the consistent course of work and the know-how acquired by the “Archytas” program for the research, development and industrial production of the first Autonomous Multi-Purpose Aerial Vehicle by entities of the wider public sector.
The Ministry of Finance, as the main shareholder of EAB, supports and finances this program in various ways, as it did for the “Archytas” program, aiming at the further development of domestic know-how in innovative fields, in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the company and the country as a whole . The “Grypas” program is expected to bring multiple benefits for the involved bodies and, more broadly, for the scientific community, the Greek economy and, overall, our country.
At the signing event of the memorandum of cooperation between the EAB and the four Universities, the following participated:
From EAB, the President of the company Mr. Ioannis Koutras, the Managing Director Mr. Dimitrios Papakostas, the member of the Board of Directors and coordinator of the “Grypas” program Mr. Michael Koronaios, the member of the Board of Directors Mr. Nikolaos Kaliorakis, the General Production Manager Mr. Theodoros Rizos, the General Manager of Strategy and Development Mr. Georgios Stamelos, the Director of Program Management Ms. Dimitra Vrouha, the R&D Director of New Products Mr. Nikolaos Koklas, the Director of the Electronics Factory Mr. Aithon Narlis and the supervising engineer Mr. Anastasios Makrikostas.
From the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Rector, Professor Mr. Nikolaos Papaioannou.
From the University of Patras, the Vice Chancellor of Academic and International Affairs, Professor Mr. Dionysios Mantzavinos and the person responsible for the project, Professor Mr. Vassilis Kostopoulos.
From the Democritus University of Thrace, the Rector, Professor Mr. Fotios Maris, the member of the Board of Management of the University of Athens, Professor Ms. Maria Michalopoulou and those responsible for the project, Professor Mr. Antonios Gasteratos, Professor Mr. Georgios Syrakoulis and Associate Professor Mr. Nikolaos Papanikolaou.
From the University of Thessaly, the Rector, Professor Mr. Zisis Mamouris and the person responsible for the project, the Dean of the Polytechnic School, Mr. Georgios Stamoulis.
The collaborators of the Minister of Finance in matters of Research and Innovation, Professor Mr. Konstantinos Tsamadias and Assistant Professor Mr. Christos Christodoulou.
The Service Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Ms. Penelope Pagoni and the Head of the Privatizations, Securities Management and Business Planning Unit (MADKAES) Mr. Sotirios Anastasopoulos.
The Minister of Finance, Mr. Christos Staikouras , in his presentation on the signing of the memorandum of cooperation, pointed out the following:
“For more than 2 years now, the Ministry of Finance has set a goal for the wider public sector to become a designer and producer of multi-purpose drone systems.
In order to achieve the goal, we started an effort to establish cooperation between the Ministry of Finance, the supervised Hellenic Aviation Industry (EAB), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Democritus University of Thrace and the University of Thessaly – “Archytas” program”.
Its goal is the design and industrial production of multi-use and multi-type unmanned aerial vehicle (drone – UAV) systems.The implementation of the “Archytas” program began on September 1, 2021.
To date, this collective, national effort is progressing as planned.
After the successful test flights of the scale aircraft, both in the conventional way and in the vertical take-off-landing mode, its final design is being completed.
At the same time, the supply of necessary materials and devices continues at the EAB, the configuration of a special space for the industrial production line is progressing, and the construction of the molds begins.
In the quarter that started, the construction of the prototype vehicle will proceed.
After the completion of its construction, there will be test flights, checks, certifications, costing of alternative types of vehicles and taking over by EAB orders for the manufacture of aircraft from users.
The smooth progress of the work of the “Archytas” program and the development of a constructive cooperation with the Universities gave us the basis, in order to:
First. To call on Greek entrepreneurship, which produces or wishes to produce the necessary materials and devices for aircraft, with international competitiveness in terms of quality and prices, to coordinate its action with the EAB.
Second. Let’s take the next ambitious step.
We set as our goal the design and industrial production of a second, much more complex unmanned aerial vehicle, named “Grypas”.
We also strengthened our partners with the University of Patras.
We discussed this specific issue at length with the Minister of National Defense.
Our will and estimates coincided.
The harmonious cooperation with highly qualified officers of the Armed Forces of the country allows us to be more optimistic about the outcome of the new, important and demanding undertaking.
In this direction, I call on all those involved to work with honesty, consistency, reliability, productivity, efficiency and with absolute respect for the last euro of the Greek taxpayers.
In this national effort, I call upon all concerned to work to the best of their ability.
To prove that Greece has the strength and potential for significant achievements, which will strengthen, from all sides, the power of our Motherland.
To realize that they participate in writing a good page of Greek history.
Assuming that they will fully respond to our prompts, I thank them for their cooperation.
I wish us good success in our new joint effort.”
The Minister of National Defense, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos , in his statement on the signing of the memorandum of cooperation, emphasized:
It is a fact that for the last two years, or so, we have been in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, the supervisory body of the ODA, to develop the project of creation, construction and use in the end (great benefit in the end, as I hope it will be, for the Armed Forces of the country), an unmanned vehicle or several types.
Today I am in the very happy position together with the Minister of Finance, my dear friend Mr. Christos Staikouras, to be present at the signing of this memorandum of cooperation between, on the one hand, the body that will implement this program and the other necessary bodies that are the academic institutions of the country, which are represented by the present Chancellors, have shown a first sample of what they can do in terms of the design and prototype development of such an element.
I got a personal taste, when in October 2019 in a warehouse of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki laboratories I saw a prototype UAV, unmanned, which had been designed by a working group at Aristotle and the next phase was about to be put into test flights. It was just a sample of the work that can be done by the talented and qualified human resources that are the researchers, the academics, the working groups under the Professors and it is not only Aristotle, it is the University of Thessaly, the Democritus University of Thrace and the University of Patras .
Therefore, we have very positive writing samples, but we had to solve a specific exercise. In order for the country to develop through the domestic Defense Industry a type of unmanned aerial vehicle or several types of unmanned aerial vehicles, the following would have to happen:
– To link the original product of academic research or a design initiative such as that developed in ODA, to the operational requirements and specifications as designed by the Armed Forces, who know better than anyone the operational needs of such an element (the non- manned in this case), and, at the same time, to connect these two elements to the core manufacturing phase, which is the connection with industry in order to move from the design to the phase of manufacturing the prototype and testing it and finally to the phase of industrially manufactured, now in greater numbers for distribution to end users.
We tried to solve this exercise together with the Minister of Finance and I am glad that the ODA also joined this exercise as a key participant. Because ODA is a key component of the domestic Defense Industry, it faces some challenges but nevertheless has talent in the form of manpower that can design such systems, know-how and the industrial infrastructure to develop a UAV as it ultimately needs to be developed as a final product. So this was the exercise we solved. Of course, the decision is shared with the Ministry of Finance, which had the opportunity to take the initiative to finance this project.
We, as the Ministry of Defense, first provide all the necessary information on the operational missions of all three Branches of the Armed Forces. The missions of one Branch differ from the other, but certainly all will contribute in terms of their own requirements.
We will determine the characteristics of the UCAV design so that the mission requirements are met. We will allocate specialized personnel, an Air Force officer has already been allocated to this project, so that he can contribute with his special knowledge, as requested by the EAB. Therefore, we will participate in the development and design of the UCAV.
We will contribute to the certification of the external loads, the writing of the operational specifications, of course also the requirements of the various users. We will provide, through the specialized staff, special consulting services, of course, and we will participate in the execution of the standard and service tests.
We will participate in the writing of the flight manuals, both for training and use by future pilots, we will perform the operational checks and special tests, a series of tasks necessary in the development of this product and the contribution, of course, of officers of the Armed Forces, of course under the prompting, agreement and assistance of the Ministry of National Defence.
Therefore, I emphasize that today is an important day, because today this project is made public with the co-signing of the parties to this memorandum. It will not be received, nor will a final result occur in a year or a few months. You know that our neighboring countries spent a lot of time, more than ten years, in order to develop their own products. We, however, can, I think, go faster, as long as an organized and coordinated beginning is made. There is infrastructure, talent, contribution of the academic institutions and I think there are the conditions with the help of the Armed Forces to have a final product.
In the meantime, in order to meet the needs, as you understand, we are doing our own planning to have the Unmanned Vehicles, where they need to be and as we want them, of course, but it is a wishful project for Greece to develop its own product in this level and not only for missions directly related to the needs of the National Defense, but multiple missions, as the Minister of Finance very correctly explained.
Let today be the day of an important beginning. This important project, with undeniable and self-evident national benefit, enters the tracks of implementation with the signing of this memorandum that unites the different pieces of the puzzle and makes us look ahead with optimism, something that will be implemented because there is every mood and every support to be done.
There is, as we said, the contribution of the academic community at the design level. There is a contribution of the industrial infrastructure in design but also the possibility to produce at the level of industrial production. There is a given contribution of the Armed Forces in order to satisfy the demands and needs and there is of course support in this way, that is, in principle, the financing of the planning phase, by the Ministry of Finance, which supervises the ODA. I am glad that together, dear Minister, dear friend Christos, in complete agreement and cooperation without fanfare, without announcements, but with specific work and timetables we will be able to start something good which I believe has already started to produce some first results, we see planned prototype,
However, we have already started to travel this road and I think that today a more solid basis of conditions is being laid that we will travel to the final product, for the benefit, as I said, of both the Armed Forces, and National Security, but also other elements who will benefit from the usefulness of these aircraft’.
On behalf of EAB, the managing director of the company, Mr. Dimitrios Papakostas , underlined, among other things, the following: “Today is another milestone in the course and development of the Greek Aviation Industry, because once again we are given the opportunity to collaborate very closely with the Universities, to produce a product for the benefit of our country. I sincerely thank the Minister of Finance Mr. Christos Staikouras for his undivided support in this particular program, and in the “Archytas” program that we started 1.5 years ago, but also for his general support to our company, which really proved itself valuable over the past three years.
I also thank the Minister of National Defense Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos for his support for the “Grypas” program.
ODA has turned the page, is entering new chapters and is finally starting to show off its skills, know-how and all that it can do.”
The Rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Professor Mr. Nikolaos Papaioannou stated, among other things:
“1.5 years ago, at the signing of the memorandum of cooperation for the “Archytas” program, we said that we were looking forward to creating the first unmanned aerial vehicle, in cooperation. Today, the extroversion of Greek public universities is proven in practice, but also the confidence with which the state supports such efforts for the last three years. We have come to the point of saying that what we have planned has become a reality, and after it has become a reality, we go to the next step.
On the part of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, we will contribute with all our powers, so that this new, more complex, more modern unmanned aerial vehicle will really benefit all aspects of the activity of our country”.
The Vice Chancellor of Academic and International Affairs of the University of Patras, Professor Mr. Dionysios Mantzavinos said: “It is a great pleasure for the University of Patras to be present today at the signing of this memorandum of cooperation. It is a strategic choice of the University of Patras to participate in projects of great scientific, technological and national importance, such as “Grypas”. Collaborative action by partnerships like this, involving academia, industry, and government, through the Departments of Finance and Defense, looks like it won’t just be additive, it’ll be multiplicative, and that’s the payoff. I want to thank the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering of the Polytechnic School of the University of Patras, which participates in this project and will give its best, with its expertise and zeal.”
The Rector of the Democritus University of Thrace, Professor Mr. Fotios Maris noted: “The University of Thrace was very happy to take on the role assigned to it by the Ministries, and first of all the Ministry of Finance. Initially, with the “Archytas” program. We provided the best manpower available to us and whatever else was required. We will continue this very successful model and the collaboration with notable and important colleagues from the other Universities with the “Grypas” program. A demanding program that you can be sure will succeed. Such programs give us the opportunity to highlight the work of Greek academic institutions, fulfilling with the greatest possible responsibility the role assigned to them by the Greek state”.
The Rector of the University of Thessaly, Professor Mr. Zisis Mamouris stated: “I want to thank the management and executives of the EAB, the Ministry of Finance and the Minister for their undivided dedication to this program, the support they show to the University of Thessaly and the honor that made them trust it, once again, with a big project. The University of Thessaly is constantly at the forefront of innovation. He wants to achieve extroversion in every way and is at the disposal of any body that wants his services, let alone the State, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Defense, so that we can implement projects that strengthen our country”. (Source: UAS VISION/ Defence Hub)
18 Jan 23. Drone rules: The effects of UAV regulations in India. The Indian government launched its ‘Drone Rules 2021′ in August of that year to promote the development of a domestic unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market. The rules are intended to provide a much-needed boost to the Indian UAV industry and reduce reliance on imports.
The Indian military has been using UAVs for more than two decades in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) roles on its borders with Pakistan and China. Despite its first use of UAVs during the Kargil War in 1999 – and efforts since to develop and produce ISR platforms – the evolution of UAV capability in India has been slower than some neighbouring countries.
The Nishant, a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) programme that began in the 1990s, was India’s first major step towards the indigenisation of UAVs. Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), the Nishant made its maiden flight in January 1995. (Source: Janes)
18 Jan 23. Bayraktar DIHA VTOL Drone Completes Flight Test at 8,000 ft.
Turkey’s Bayraktar vertical-landing unmanned aerial vehicles (DIHA) have successfully completed 8,000 feet operational altitude flight test, drone maker Baykar announced recently.
Turkish defense company Baykar shared footage on Twitter showing the Bayraktar DIHA rising straight up into the air, soaring above the clouds, and vertically descending back down.
The Bayraktar DIHA is a mini-tactical UAV-class aircraft capable of functioning in reconnaissance and intelligence missions.
The drone features automatic cruise, autonomous take-off, autonomous landing, and semi-autonomous cruise flight capabilities.
With a communication range of up to 150 kilometers (about 93 miles), the Bayraktar DIHA’s low-fuel-consumption gasoline engine offers a long flight duration. (Source: UAS VISION/) Anadolu Agency
15 Jan 23. NASA seeks industry partner to commercialise, market its UTM concept. NASA’s Technology Transfer Program has issued a tender to solicit inquiries from companies interested in obtaining license rights to commercialize, manufacture and market the NASA-developed traffic management system for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs).
According to a post on the US government tender portal SAM.gov:
“This novel technology enables the growth in civilian applications of UAS operations at lower altitudes by developing a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system. There are a number of applications of UAS which includes goods and services delivery in urban, difficult terrain and rural areas, imaging and surveillance for agricultural, and utility management. To enable significant commercial use of UASs within lower altitude airspace and airspace that does not interfere with regular National Airspace System (NAS) operations, a UTM system is required. UTM is essential to enable accelerated applications of UASs. UTM will accommodate and support all types of UAS operations ranging from disposable with minimalistic avionics capabilities to highly capable UASs.
“To express interest in this opportunity, please submit a license application through NASA’s Automated Technology Licensing Application System (ATLAS) by visiting https://technology.nasa.gov/patent/TOP2-237
“If you have any questions, please e-mail NASA’s Technology Transfer Program at with the title of this Technology Transfer Opportunity as listed in this SAM.gov notice and your preferred contact information. For more information about licensing other NASA-developed technologies, please visit the NASA Technology Transfer Portal at https://technology.nasa.gov/
For more information:: https://sam.gov/opp/d39dd647471448acbadc78562401b230/view
16 Jan 23. NASA to work with Northrop Grumman on integrating large UAS in the National Airspace System.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is collaborating with NASA to develop and test solutions for integrating large, uncrewed aircraft systems into the National Airspace System (NAS). The effort will focus on air cargo operations and is part of NASA’s Air Traffic Management-eXploration (ATM-X) Pathfinding for Airspace with Autonomous Vehicles (PAAV) subproject.
According to a company press release:
“Partnering with NASA, we will detail requirements and solutions to make it possible for autonomous aircraft, in this case being air cargo, to be integrated seamlessly and safely into national airspace,” said Tom Jones, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. “Our work together will improve airspace access and transform how uncrewed systems are used to transport goods across U.S. airspace and help establish airspace integration critical to future manned unmanned teaming efforts.”
To support this long-term goal, the partners will exchange data and information to define technologies and procedures for remotely piloted systems. This work will include coordination with the FAA, flight readiness reviews and development of a test plan for simulations and flight demonstrations.
For more information: https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/northrop-grumman-partners-with-nasa-to-shape-future-integration-of-uncrewed-autonomous-systems-in-national-airspace (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
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