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16 Feb 23. BAE Systems successfully tests Lockheed Martin Skunk Works®’ small uncrewed aerial systems on ACV C4/UAS.
BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® conducted a successful test of the Stalker and Indago small uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) on an Amphibious Combat Vehicle Command, Control, Communication and Computers/Uncrewed Aerial Systems (ACV C4/UAS) variant.
Both UAS will provide unprecedented, long-endurance reconnaissance capabilities to support the U.S. Marine Corps’ expeditionary warfare and battle management capabilities aboard the ACV C4/UAS.
“We’re focused on giving Marines an advanced technology solution to meet their reconnaissance requirements,” said Mark Brinkman, program manager for ACV design and development. “That’s why we’re teamed with companies like Lockheed Martin—to provide Marines with the best possible capabilities for their expeditionary needs.”
BAE Systems tested Skunk Works’ Stalker and Indago UAS along with a number of other technology suppliers as part of contractor verification testing, a key event in the ACV C4/UAS program’s lifecycle. Now that contractor verification testing is complete, the Marine Corps will conduct its own series of tests to evaluate if the ACV C4/UAS is a capable and cost-effective Government Off The Shelf (GOTS) solution for the Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) program.
Skunk Works’ Stalker and Indago UAS provide industry-leading endurance, a broad operating envelope, and an open systems architecture to allow them to execute diverse and demanding missions while maintaining a small operational footprint and crew requirement.
“Collaboration with our SOCOM and Marine Corps customers and industry partners has enabled the rapid development of needed capabilities for the warfighter – as exemplified through this partnership with BAE Systems,” said Jacob Johnson, Skunk Works UAS and Attritable Systems director. “By integrating Stalker and Indago on BAE Systems’ ACV platform, we are delivering greater mission flexibility in a small form factor that supports Marine Corps operations.”
BAE Systems’ ACV C4/UAS vehicle is a Mobile Systems Integration Lab (SIL) built to demonstrate the transformational technology Marines need to conduct reconnaissance, surveillance, and acquisition capabilities, including the ability to sense and communicate targets over the horizon using cutting edge C4 systems. Skunk Works’ Stalker and Indago UAS are some of the technology components that the ACV C4/UAS employs to achieve this goal.
(Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
16 Feb 23. Garuda Aerospace introduces Suraj solar-powered UAV. Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace unveiled a model of a solar-powered high-altitude pseudo satellite (HAPS) platform named Suraj at the Aero India 2023 show, which is being held in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February.
The HAPS unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is being developed by the company under the guidance of India’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Agnishwar Jayaprakash, founder and CEO of Garuda Aerospace, said that the Suraj system is being developed to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to the Indian Armed Forces. HAPS platforms typically fly at altitudes of about 20 km or more.
The Suraj model unveiled at Aero India 2023 featured two pod-like structures that accommodate a propulsion system driving two-bladed propellers in tractor configuration, high-mounted wings that have a span of 26 ft, and twin tails incorporating control surfaces. (Source: Janes)
16 Feb 23. EndureAir Systems showcases enhanced Vibhram-G UAV. Noida-based EndureAir Systems displayed an enhanced version of its Vibhram-G (gasoline powered) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the Aero India 2023 show, held in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February.
Rama Krishna, CEO of EndureAir Systems, told Janes that the UAV has been enhanced to meet the Indian military’s requirements for persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. In its latest iteration, Vibhram-G features a maximum range of 100 km, an endurance of 3 hours, a maximum take-off weight of 15 kg, and a maximum speed of 60 km/h. Development work on the enhanced Vibhram-G was completed in the last five months, Krishna said.
The new version of the Vibhram-G has an enlarged canopy that accommodates an additional fuel tank, increasing the fuel capacity to 4 litres as compared with the 2.5 litres available in earlier iterations. The powerplant has also been integrated with an electronic fuel injection system (EFI), providing enhanced combustion and reduced engine maintenance cycles. (Source: Janes)
15 Feb 23. Tardid Technologies develops USV for Indian Navy. Bangalore-based Tardid Technologies will be delivering three units of an unmanned surface vessel (USV) – developed in partnership with Pune-based Accurate Industrial Controls – to the Indian Navy.
The three units of the USV are currently under production, CEO of Tardid Technologies, Niladri Dutta, told Janes at the Aero India 2023 show being held in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February.
The company expects to deliver the first USV unit to the Indian Navy in August, Dutta said.
The USV, named Brainbox Smart Ship Operations (SSO), has a length of about 8m, an endurance of more than 12 hours, and can travel at a speed of 12n mile/h, Aastha Verma, chief operating officer (COO) of Tardid Technologies, told Janes.
Brainbox SSO has a payload capacity of 200 kg, and can operate in relatively rough weather conditions, Verma said. (Source: Janes)
14 Feb 23. Babcock Australasia, IAI partner on remotely piloted aircraft solutions. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore remotely piloted aircraft solutions for Australian law enforcement, maritime surveillance, and disaster management applications.
Under the partnership, the two companies will execute local demonstrations of the IAI WanderB-VTOL and ThunderB-VTOL systems, hoping to prove the capabilities in front of state and federal government law enforcement agencies, emergency services, and national security agencies.
According to the companies, the VTOL family provides unique benefits for these applications, combining fixed wing UAV with multi-copter capabilities. There are currently 250 units in use around the globe.
“This partnership with IAI is about bringing together solutions that are the best fit for our customers, integrating our rotary capabilities with RPAs to deliver the most effective and cost-efficient solutions,” Peter Newington, Babcock’s director of aviation and critical services, said.
“The addition of autonomous systems reduces operator workloads and augments existing capabilities with flexible, rapidly deployable, long-endurance assets for law enforcement, maritime surveillance, disaster management or environmental situational awareness.
“The platforms are readily configurable to provide appropriate sensors for the task at hand coupled with the ability to distribute video and other user critical data in near real time across end-user networks.
“Importantly, a key element of our offer to state and federal government agencies is that Babcock already holds a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) which will allow us to operate RPAs like the WanderB-VTOL and ThunderB-VTOL in Australia,” Newington said.
According to Yonatan Segev, managing director IAI Australia, the partnership is expected to provide the customer with fundamental intelligence and situation awareness.
“IAI’s systems have been tested in extreme environmental conditions and comply with the end user’s operational needs, providing them with significate operational advantages,” Segev explained.
“From the Tactical WanderB-VTOL and ThunderB-VTOL systems to the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) Maritime Heron, IAI looks forward to bringing the most advanced technology together with our partners in Babcock to offer unique operational solutions to customers.”
Meir Shabtai, vice president and general manager of the Malat Division, IAI, explained that the capabilities will employ emerging artificial intelligence and sensing capabilities.
“For four decades, IAI has occupied a position as the pioneer and leader in the field of unmanned aerial systems, offering a broad range of strategic and tactical UAVs. Technological developments in the UAV field include artificial intelligence capabilities, integration of a wide range of sensors, and a precise real-time intelligence picture,” he said.
“I welcome our collaboration with Babcock, which is hugely important from both the viewpoint of Australia’s security and from the technological side, in terms of sharing both knowledge and technology.” (Source: Defence Connect)
14 Feb 23. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have jointly announced that turbo-propeller engines, which power GA-ASI’s state-of-art MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), will be supported by the HAL Engine Division at Bengaluru for the Indian market.
“GA-ASI is proud to collaborate with HAL on this prestigious project,” said Dr. Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, General Atomics Global Corporation. “HAL is the foremost Indian public sector Aerospace and Defence agency, and its vast experience in the domain of aero-engine technology makes it our natural partner in India.”
Though the turboprop engine fitted onboard the MQ-9B RPAS looks similar to other commercial engines in its category, it is unique in its configuration and operation, requiring special training and equipment to maintain, repair and overhaul.
The Expression of Interest was exchanged in presence of Mr. C B Ananthakrishnan, Chairman and Managing Director, HAL and Mr. Mihir Kanti Mishra, CEO (Bangalore Complex), between Dr. Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, General Atomics Global Corporation and Mr. B. Krishna Kumar, Executive Director (Engines & IMGT).
“HAL has been manufacturing and providing MRO support for TPE 331-5 engines for the last 40 years. We are also establishing facilities for manufacturing TPE 331-12B engines for HTT-40 project. The engine used on the MQ-9B RPAS belongs to the same family of engines with upgraded configuration to adapt to the RPAS technology. I am glad that HAL Engine Division, Bangalore would be providing MRO support to the engine for MQ-9B RPAS, one of the most sophisticated equipment in the world,” said Mr. C B Ananthakrishnan, Chairman and Managing Director, HAL.
GA-ASI and HAL eagerly look forward to formulating a comprehensive engine MRO program for upcoming RPAS projects. This joint collaboration echoes India’s clarion call for ‘Atmanirbhar’ or ‘Self-Reliance’, while underscoring the deep industrial connection between U.S. and Indian Aerospace Companies.
13 Feb 23. UK HAPS Startup Takes Legal Action Against Airbus. Avealto Ltd has issued a cease and desist letter against Airbus HAPS Connectivity Solutions Ltd — recently renamed Aalto HAPS Ltd — in relation to its infringement of Avealto’s trademarked name.
Both ‘Avealto’ and rebranded Airbus subsidiary, ‘Aalto’, are developing High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) to offer cheaper, more reliable alternatives to point-to-point satellite services. Avealto is developing an environmentally friendly fleet of next generation 100-metre-long helium airships to ‘connect the unconnected’. These will provide internet access to some of the world’s poorest communities. Aalto, meanwhile, is pursuing its “Zephyr” high altitude flying wing design.
Until recently, however, the two companies were pursuing separate sections of the market. Aalto’s rebranding on 12 January 2023 appears to coincide with a decision by the company to target the telecom services market that Avealto has been preparing to serve since it was first established in 2013.
Avealto welcomes the increased competition Aalto’s market shift signals, which it argues will benefit consumers. However, it fears the infringement of its trademarked name by Airbus will threaten its ability to raise funds and market its services. This, it argues, will be detrimental to consumers and jeopardise the hundreds of direct and indirect jobs the company is forecast to contribute to Britain’s post-Brexit economy once it is fully operational.
Avealto is confident in its commercial offering. Citing its lower costs, it says these will enable it to offer affordable internet provision to the millions of people around the world currently living ‘unconnected’. It will also be able to disrupt existing markets by offering a lower cost alternative for the 43m ‘remote’ internet users beholden to expensive point-to-point satellite internet providers. It has valued this market alone at $23bn. Overall, it estimates its cost per Gbps will be 7 to 11 times lower than existing satellite technologies and that the cost of a global rollout of its platforms to be $230m compared to $10bn for satellites. It will fly its first commercial prototype next year.
While Airbus has previously promoted the Zephyr vehicle to the UK Ministry of Defence and other Governments around the world, to date, only a few vehicles have been sold to the UK government.
In response to the trademark infringement, Avealto has written to the newly appointed Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP. In his letter, Walt Anderson, Managing Director of Avealto has urged the Minister to write to Airbus calling for them to review the decision by Aalto HAPS Ltd, while, at the same time, halting any future procurement from Aalto HAPS Ltd until the matter is resolved.
Commenting on Avealto’s decision to take legal action, Walt Anderson, Managing Director, Avealto Ltd, said:
“The actions by Airbus and its subsidiary, Aalto HAPS Ltd, are disappointing. Their actions demonstrate a clear infringement of our trademark and have left us with no choice but to take legal action.
“We welcome the Aalto’s decision to market its platform toward the telecoms sector. This increased competition is for the benefit of the consumer. What is unwelcome, however, is the wilful infringement on our trademark. This appears to be a rather cynical attempt by Airbus to restrict our ability to raise funds and market our services and to stifle its competition. This would be detrimental to consumers and jeopardise the hundreds of direct and indirect jobs we are set to contribute to Britain’s post-Brexit economy once we are fully operational.
“We know that our HAPS technology presents a more attractive commercial offering than that of Aalto’s. Our technology is simpler, more reliable and more cost effective. We believe Aalto recognises and that that is why it’s taken the action that it has.
“I am calling directly on the leadership of Airbus to take action to correct this wrongdoing.
About Avealto Ltd
Avealto (Spanish: “High Bird”) is a UK-based company developing a fleet of environmentally friendly next generation 100-metre-long helium airships or Wireless Infrastructure Platforms (WIPs) to ‘connect the unconnected’.
When complete, the global Avealto system will comprise 200 uncrewed stratospheric, long duration telecommunications platforms, providing mobile telephony, broadband communications, backhaul, broadcasting and other hosted payloads. Modular swappable payloads will be tailored to suit specific locations and markets.
Avealto will complement existing terrestrial and satellite infrastructure, providing rapidly deployable connectivity for rural, remote, maritime, aeronautical and developing world customers at a substantially lower cost than existing technologies and will integrate seamlessly with existing communication infrastructure.
Since its founding, Avealto has been actively developing high-altitude vehicles. It has subsequently manufactured, and flight tested a number smaller test vehicles prior to completing initial research and development on a full-scale commercial HAP vehicle design. The full size commercial Wireless Infrastructure Platform (WIP) vehicle will support a telecom payload with more capacity than large telecom satellites.
In 2022 it filed for four patents, including both telecom electronics and flight hardware.
Its initial target market will be in Indonesia, where there are 6,000 inhabited islands, currently either unserved or underserved, where it intends to close the digital divide. Regulatory and potential customer negotiations are ongoing.
It will fly its first commercial prototype next year.
Notice of Threatened Opposition
Avealto filed a “Notice of Threatened Opposition” to the infringement on 31 January 2023. If Airbus does not stop using this very similar name by 13 April 2023, we will move to a formal proceeding against them to protect our reputation and identity. (Source: UAS VISION)
13 Feb 23. USAF mulls remote control of drone wingmen. The Air Force is studying whether drone wingmen flying alongside piloted fighter aircraft could be controlled by operators in nearby battle management aircraft or refueling tankers, according to Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown.
The future fleet of collaborative combat aircraft, or CCA, as the service calls the concept, could involve them being partially guided from nearby aircraft such as the KC-46 Pegasus or E-7 Wedgetail, Brown said in a discussion at the Brookings Institution on Monday.
The Air Force wants these autonomous CCAs to accompany its future Next Generation Air Dominance fighter, and perhaps also the F-35. Their missions could include striking targets, conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, or electronic warfare operations such as jamming enemy signals, said Brown.
There are a lot of finer points that have to be worked out relating to the way CCAs are guided, he said, whether from the cockpit of the fighters they are accompanying or from other aircraft in the area.
“How does it team with a crewed aircraft?” Brown said. “And could you operate it from the back of a KC-46? We’ll have E-7s eventually, could you operate it from the back of an E-7? Could you operate it from a fighter cockpit? We’re thinking through those aspects.”
His comments echoed suggestions made by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in an October 2022 paper on drone wingmen. The Mitchell Institute urged the Air Force to focus as soon as possible on refining how humans will interact with these drone aircraft, and one model floated by Mitchell envisioned a swarm of drones being directed by an air battle manager operating from a nearby Wedgetail.
Brown said that as the Air Force lays out future budgets for CCAs, it’s also considering what the aircraft itself — and the autonomous capability that will allow them to fly primarily on their own — will look like.
And the Air Force is also figuring out how it will build the organizations that are needed to operate and maintain these aircraft, and how it will train and equip the airmen who will operate and rely on them, he said.
Keeping costs down will be crucial if this concept will work, Brown said. One of the intended benefits of CCAs is they would be less expensive than traditional aircraft, and would not require an aircrew, he said.
“We’re really headed down that path,” Brown said. “I think you’ll see, as we start looking at our future budgets and the analysis we’re doing … we are committed to more uncrewed capability.”
Brown said the Air Force envisions a CCA fleet that would include a variety of drones, covering a wide range of sizes, capabilities, and different levels of how expendable they might be.
Air Force Sec. Frank Kendall has said CCA aircraft must be at least “attritable,” a term the service uses to mean they could be reused, but inexpensive enough that they could be lost in combat. And some CCAs could even be completely expendable, designed to be cheap enough that they could go on risky missions with the expectation they would be destroyed in the process.
Kendall also said in September 2022 that a competition for CCAs would likely be held in 2024, although he cautioned details would not be included in the fiscal 2024 budget proposal that is soon to be released.
The Air Force will have to be selective and “pragmatic” about what it puts on these drones, Brown said.
“If you look at cost, at what point do you say, ‘This is no longer attritable,’ because you’re putting so much capability into it, you’re spending so much money?’” Brown said. “You don’t try to put everything on a collaborative combat aircraft. [If the Air Force did] then now it becomes almost as expensive as a crewed aircraft. So there’s a bit of balance about how we go through that.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
13 Feb 23. US border with Mexico subject to “thousands of illegal drone incursions” – Washington Times. US Congress heard from a senior border patrol agent of “more than 10,000 illegal drone incursions from Mexico” in 2022 according to a report in The Washington Times.
“Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez, who oversees the Rio Grande Valley sector in southern Texas, said the cartels use the drones to keep tabs on where the Border Patrol is, so they can figure ways to sneak people and other contraband such as drugs through the gaps.
“She and John Modlin, chief patrol agent in the Tucson sector of Arizona, said the cartels are driving the chaos on the border, controlling the crossings and forcing the Border Patrol to react to the smugglers’ tactics. “In Tucson sector, everything south of the border is controlled by the cartels,” Chief Modlin told the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.
“He said the cartels have figured out new ways to keep agents distracted,” said the report. For more information visit: www.washingtontimes.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
13 Feb 23. Unidentified drones flew “over US government nuclear laboratories.” Reports of unidentified aerial systems (UAS) flying over US territory by several media sources include four reports of unidentified airborne vehicle intrusions at sensitive US government nuclear laboratories between March 2018 and April 2021, says a report in the Washington Examiner. In each case, security officers failed to identify the operator of these apparent vehicles or their intent, according to the report, adding, “they raise the possibility of hostile foreign espionage targeting sensitive US government research”. It says “Chinese aerial reconnaissance drone and Russian undersea reconnaissance drone activities are more widespread and capable than commonly understood”.
“While all four reports were sourced from the Protective Force Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore appears to have recovered one report from the New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently successful completed a fusion ignition experiment.
“That Sandia report lists an officer’s statement from March 19, 2018. The officer saw “what I believed looked like a drone flying West to East over Sandia National Laboratory. I confirmed with [another officer] that it could be a drone and he replied it could be. It was low flying and had no sound with alternating white and red LED lighting.” The officer adds that another facility official called him “and said they had spotted a low flying jet that made no sound flying over Sandia around the same time. The drone continued to fly East until it was out of sight.”
“On April 1, 2021, a Lawrence Livermore security supervisor reported an employee’s early morning sighting of “a possible drone hovering 50-75 feet off the ground in the buffer zone. Due to the darkness I only saw the red and white lights.” The supervisor consulted with a construction crew and drone operator in the area. Neither had been flying a drone at the time.
“The two most interesting reports come from Lawrence Livermore’s Site 300 area, central to the US government’s Cold War-era development of nuclear weapons. Lawrence Livermore notes that “Site 300 supports the Laboratory’s nuclear weapons program by assessing the operation of non-nuclear weapon components” to help “ensure the safety, security and reliability of the US nuclear weapons stockpile,” says the Washington Examiner. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
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