Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
22 Sep 23. US Navy deploys USVs on historic visit to Japan. Two medium-sized unmanned surface vessels (USVs) operated by the US Navy’s Unmanned Surface Vessel Division One (USVDIV-1) arrived at Fleet Activities Yokosuka on 18 September as part of a planned visit to Japan, the service announced on 21 September.
USVs Ranger and Mariner are participating in Integrated Battle Problem (IBP) 23.2, a major US Navy exercise being conducted by the US Pacific Fleet to develop, test, and evaluate the integration of unmanned capabilities to create operational advantages.
According to the service, IBP 23.2 was launched in August and is the third multi-domain unmanned capabilities exercise and will centre on testing and developing capabilities and concepts for medium and large USVs as well as advanced manned-unmanned teaming operations in the Indo-Pacific.
The Pacific Ocean crossing of Ranger and Mariner from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was made with a small crew on board. Both USVs belong to a small but growing fleet of prototype USVs being fielded by USVDIV-1 to test and validate a range of capabilities, including surface and subsurface combat, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as command and control.
“Unmanned and autonomous technologies are key to growing our distributed maritime operations framework.” said Rear Admiral Blake Converse, deputy commander of US Pacific Fleet.
“By proliferating our presence in the Pacific and increasing the fleet’s situational awareness and lethality, we give ourselves more options to make better decisions at all levels of leadership,” Rear Adm Converse added.
The USV deployment to Yokosuka follows a series of complex naval drills, including training manoeuvres under Large Scale Exercise 2023 where they boosted the maritime domain awareness of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.
“Our approach is focused on integrating, exercising, and refining tactics, techniques, and procedures for immediate application into real world operations with the fleet.” said Commander Jeremiah Daley, commanding officer of USVDIV-1.
“Since standing up USVDIV-1 as a pre-commissioning unit in 2021, we continue to turn fleet feedback from exercises into adapting technology and requirement generation in order to provide realistic and impactful capabilities that future USV programs of record will bring to the Navy,” Cmdr Daley added. (Source: AMR)
20 Sep 23. Leonardo Unveils Proteus Rotary-Wing Drone. After more than a year of anticipation, Leonardo and the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) unveiled a mature concept of the technology demonstrator, known as project ‘Proteus’ by the British Armed Forces, at DSEI London 2023.
As part of phase 3a of the RWUAS CCD Phase 3 TDP, awarded in July 2022 by the UK MOD Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Future Capability Group (FCG), a design which highlights conceptual maturity for uncrewed VTOL and modularity has been finalised.
Leonardo and UK MOD are adopting a fully integrated team approach, adopting agile principles to drive an outcome-based project. The technology demonstrator’s mission systems and mission modules will ensure rapid role changes for frontline commands, including naval and land forces, with mission flexibility during embarked operations.
In close partnership with DE&S, Leonardo continues to investigate the potential systems which will contribute to the technology demonstrator’s final architecture that will form part of the UK MOD Rotary Wing Strategy, as contracted on the four-year programme. Leonardo is adopting new technologies including the development of a full digital twin and additive manufacturing techniques to consolidate trade-offs between capability, performance, cost, sustainability and serviceability.
James Gavin, head of the Future Capability Group at Defence Equipment and Support, said: ”
Key to this project’s success is the close collaboration between the Royal Navy, DE&S’s Future Capability Group and Leonardo’s team. Our strategy at DE&S is clear that agility, innovation and team work with industry are essential drivers to ensure our Armed Forces have the operational edge – elements which Proteus embodies.”
Adam Clarke, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, commented:
“As the onshore design authority, Leonardo is exploring the art of the possible at a capability level, which will also invoke an extensive adoption of autonomy and automation into our future technologies. The RWUAS TDP is unique because it is much more than the technology – it’s about the teamwork and integration that is taking place between us and the UK MOD in enabling a dynamic, transparent and flexible approach, which will ensure long-term uncrewed capability benefits that will de-risk the path to fully autonomous flight.”
The design selected is optimum for maritime operations. The single-engine RWUAS air vehicle, in the 2-3t class, will be capable of being adapted to deliver a wide range of roles including maritime surveillance, maritime organic air missions and logistics supply.
The Proteus TDP will inform the Royal Navy’s Future Maritime Aviation Force (FMAF) vision for Anti-Submarine Warfare and AEW support. The technology demonstrator is anticipated to fly by the middle of this decade. (Source: UAS VISION)
18 Sep 23. British Army showcase laser-guided missile Hydra 400 UAS. The British Army’s Hydra 400 can carry a lethal payload comprising three laser-guided Brimstone missiles.
At the Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) 2023 exhibition at London’s ExCel centre last week, the British Army displayed the Hydra 400 unmanned aerial system (UAS).
Operators power Hydra 400 with hybrid propulsion – rotors and single spool jet turbines – producing 50kg of thrust providing a maximum lift of 400kg. It is compact, portable and operators can readily assemble the system within six minutes.
However, the UAS has another major selling point: it has the capacity to carry and fire three laser-guided Brimstone missiles, manufactured by the UK Ministry of Defence’s strategic partner for complex weapon systems, Stevenage-based MBDA.
Thought to have a range of around 25km, the Brimstone missile is capable of striking a range of target types, according to the original equipment manufacturer, including fast moving vehicles, tanks, bunkers, as well as anti-ship warfare in the maritime domain.
Brimstone also features an IM-compliant rocket motor and multi-effect, tandem-shaped charge warhead with an impact, delayed or proximity fuse capability. MBDA’s missile weighs 50kg and measures 1.8m long. A millimetric wave radar and semi-active laser system guides the missile to its target.
The British Army’s Land Operating Concept
In an exclusive with Army Technology, ahead of DSEI 2023, the British Army’s Assistant Chief of the General Staff, Major General Charlie Collins, explained that “integration is at the heart of the Army’s new Land Operating Concept.
“It defines the Army’s role in winning the land battle on behalf of the joint force, delivering as a net contributor of capability able to support all domains – both on and from the land.”
When it comes to Hydra 400, General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff, added that “We are responding to the operating environment that we see in Ukraine. For example, I am struck by the fact that in the evolving Ukraine drone campaign, 40% of losses are attributed to pilot error.
“When the electro-magnetic spectrum is so heavily contested, automation fails, and the skill of the pilot predominates. We need ‘war fighters’ – whether they are cyber specialist, drone pilots or infantry soldiers – to be stronger, faster, more intelligent and more resilient.
“By the end of this year, we will form a new UAS Group within a re-orientated Joint Aviation Command, providing a focal point for industry, around which we intend to develop the next generation of UAS platforms in ever closer partnership.” (Source: army-technology.com)
19 Sep 23. Alpha Unmanned Systems Drones Join the Spanish Armada. Alpha Unmanned Systems, a manufacturer of unmanned helicopters based in Madrid, has successfully completed the integration of its UAVs in the Combat Systems of the Navy’s BAM “Furor (P-46)”.
The announcement of this integration is part of the continued collaboration of AUS with the Spanish Armed Forces. In this case through the different participations with the Armada, both in the past REPMUS 2022, and in its next participation in the NATO Dynamic Messenger 2023 maneuvers. The purpose of these maneuvers is to enhance the integration of UxVs in NATO naval operations.
Thanks to recent international sales, AUS has proven to be at the forefront of technology and of interest to the most relevant navies. Thus, and in the naval environment, its systems fly as squadrons or technological demonstrators for the Greek Navy, the Indonesian Coast Guard, the Spanish Ministry of Defense or the U.S. Ministry of Defense. In Spain and in a multipurpose environment, they are also used by INTA, UME or GRUEMA.
Within NATO, AUS took part last year with excellent performance in the REPMUS exercises for which its drones were integrated into the ground command and control node through GMV’s IRIS system.
On this occasion, ahead of DYMS 2023, AUS drones have been successfully integrated into the combat systems of the BAM Furor through Navantia’s NAIAD.
Both systems ensure ISR Interoperability between UAVs and their operating environments, Combat Systems or Command and Control Centers.
The philosophy of both systems is based on offering a single interface so that various media (UxVs) can share their products (position, status, video, etc.) through a secure channel with any user who may need them, not only from the mission area but from any other location through the CSD (Coalition Shared DataServer).
In addition, both NAIAD and IRIS are bidirectional, so data users can send information to the UxVs, including points of interest, missions, etc., through them. The format of all these data conforms to STANAG standards, which enables their distribution and consumption by all the actors involved in the exercises.
Eric Freeman, CEO of Alpha Unmanned Systems, said, “At Alpha Unmanned Systems, we are very proud to have successfully integrated our drones into the Armada´s operational combat systems. This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to innovation and safety, and we are excited to continue to provide cutting-edge technology solutions that strengthen the operational capabilities of our armed forces.”
Founded in 2014 with Spanish capital, AUS’s most innovative product is the Alpha 900, a helicopter designed and manufactured primarily for maritime missions. With a powerful combustion engine that provides great autonomy and payload capacity (up to 4 hours and can carry payloads up to 4 kg), the A900 can autonomously take off and land on and from moving vessels with limited space (small deck).
Additionally, it is “STANAG Compliant,” aiming for all critical systems to be redundant. All these features make it perfect for navies, coast guards, and/or intelligence, surveillance, target approach, and/or reconnaissance operations at sea. (Source: UAS VISION)
18 Sep 23. Thunder Tiger unveils autonomous underwater vehicle. Taiwan’s Thunder Tiger Corp unveiled a prototype of the Seawolf 400 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) at the Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition 2023 (TADTE 2023) held in Taipei from 14 to 16 September 2023.
Tony Chang, chief strategy officer, Thunder Tiger Corp, told Janes at the show that the showcased UAV is a working prototype currently under testing.
According to the company, the Seawolf 400 is designed for civilian and military applications such as surveillance and strike capabilities. The AUV supports underwater missions up to 200 m depth.
The length and weight of the AUV are 4,000 mm and 1,000 kg. The AUV is designed to protect infrastructure and perform underwater anti-mine operations; search-and-rescue operations; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.
Apart from the Seawolf, the company showcased a working prototype of the Sea Shark 400 autonomous unmanned surface vessel (USV) at the show. (Source: Janes)
18 Sep 23. ANRA Technologies Helps Estonia U-Space Sandbox Successfully Concludes First Test Flights. mANRA Technologies (ANRA) in partnership with the Estonian Transport Administration, the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency and the Tartu Science Park Foundation established a drone testing facility in Estonia for the wide-scale development and deployment of uncrewed aviation technologies.
First announced in May of 2023 and launched in June 2023, the facility is now operational and successfully conducted its first test flights.
On September 12 and 13, 2023, different scenarios were tested at the Estonian Aviation Academy to validate the uncrewed aircraft systems test facility built by ANRA Technologies as commissioned by the Estonian Transport Administration.
“The working group’s activities reached another very important phase as we tested the performance of the U-space services and made test flights,”
said Priit Rifk, Head of the Unmanned Aviation Department at the Estonian Transport Administration.
The U-space Service Provider and Common Information Service Provider is ANRA Technologies and the uncrewed aircraft operator is the Estonian Aviation Academy.
“Testing and validation play an important role, as it allows us to try out the different scenarios that will appear in U-space in the future,” Rifk added. “As a result of the testing, we hope to obtain the necessary input for the validation and certification of the U-space service providers.”
Maria Tamm, Unmanned Aerial Systems Team Lead at the Estonian Aviation Academy, considers the testing a success:
“The testing of the systems developed by ANRA revealed a number of regulatory and technical challenges for the implementation of the U-space. This will help us to better focus our efforts in the near future, so that the unmanned aviation sector gets the boost it needs to develop.”
The test stage will be completed at the end of September, after which the test facility will be set up.
“The results of the technical tests currently being conducted will be analyzed by both the Aviation Academy and the Transport Administration, and only on this basis will it be possible to establish a subsequent roadmap regarding the volume and shape of the created test facility,”
“This has been a terrific private-public collaboration for providing the foundation for credible U-space activities,” stated Amit Ganjoo, Founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies. “ANRA’s support of Estonia’s innovative approach for launching U-space services culminated in a successful delivery of a sandbox that is a major step for establishing commercial U-space services.”
The role of the operator of the test facility and the coordinator of further development will remain with the Estonian Aviation Academy, but the particulars and the speed of further development of the test facility will depend primarily on the cooperation of the various service providers and the coordination of development activities.
The project is the first part of a wider long-term effort to deploy uncrewed air traffic services in line with the European Commission’s Implementing Regulation 664/2021. The new uncrewed aviation test facility is designed to provide digital services to drone operators who will fly in U-space in the future.
Kaili Ojamets, Head of the Department of Business Development of the Tartu City Government, said that the test site supports the ambition of the city of Tartu to be among the first ones in Europe to use public drone services and develop them further.
The participants in the project are the Estonian Transport Administration, the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency, ANRA Technologies, the Estonian Aviation Academy, Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS, the Ministry of Climate, the City of Tartu and Tartu Science Park.
The cooperation project “Expertise for the development of the uncrewed aviation test facility (U-space sandbox)” is funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014–2020. (Source: UAS VISION)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.