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Unmanned aerial vehicles | UAVs

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Air Forces Monthly, Issue 402, Sept 2021, Page 6
 

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EDGE Unveils Swarming Drones Application for Unmanned Aerial Systems at UMEX 202 February 22, 2022

  • Innovative application of AI technology allows drones to ‘swarm’ together in coordinated mission
  • Swarming drones offer increased defensive and offensive options to military forces

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Ground-launched HALCON Hunter 2 Swarming Drones (Photo: AETOSWire)


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates--(BUSINESS WIRE)--EDGE, an advanced technology group for defence and beyond, and one of the top 25 defence contractors globally, has unveiled swarming drones, its latest application for unmanned aerial systems (UAS), on the first day of the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference (UMEX 2022), taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) until 23 February.

Participating as the event’s official Strategic Partner in its second appearance at UMEX, EDGE showcased its swarming drones, which are based on the Hunter 2 series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) developed by HALCON, a regional leader in the production and supply of precision-guided weapons and UAS. Designed to ensure a decisive edge in combat, the ground-launched drones fly in formation to perform a coordinated mission that can overwhelm an adversary.

Leveraging advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the tactical drones share information with one another to track and maintain their relative positions, and to effectively engage targets. Featuring a maximum take-off weight of 8kg, the swarm of drones are agile and responsive while being directed to their target, which may include enemy fighter jets on the tarmac at a military base, or an incoming convoy of enemy armoured vehicles, for example.

The drones are equipped to operate at cruising speeds that support mission success, with a significant communications range and healthy flight endurance. The winged UAVs can be deployed in a matter of seconds, featuring a wingspan of 1.44m and a length of 1.25m.

Commenting on the addition of swarming drones to HALCON’s already impressive array of UAVs, CEO Saeed Al Mansoori said, “We see AI playing a critical role in the advancement of the defence sector and beyond, and EDGE and HALCON are determined to remain at the cutting-edge of these developments that are shaping our sector and the wider world, from our base in the UAE. The level of autonomy afforded by these swarming drones is a significant achievement for us, and we are committed to fast-tracking R&D investments in these domains to bring related products to market with speed in the areas of autonomous systems and smart munitions.”

The EDGE stand at UMEX exemplifies HALCON’s technology leadership within the UAV domain, with products including its Shadow 25 and Shadow 50 UAVs; Hunter series of drones and tube launchers; and the recently launched REACH-S unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), on display.

UMEX is the only event in the Middle East dedicated to drones, robots, unmanned systems, and their components, and offers EDGE the opportunity to feature its state-of-the-art capabilities and solutions.

Attendees of UMEX can visit EDGE and its participating entities at stand A25.

View video here.
 

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US Navy Plans Launch of Mideast Drone Force Alongside Allies

22 Feb 2022
Associated Press

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet announced Monday the launch of a new joint fleet of unmanned drones with allied nations to patrol vast swaths of the region’s volatile waters as tensions simmer with Iran.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, who leads the 5th Fleet, told The Associated Press that 100 unmanned drones, both sailing and submersible, would dramatically multiply the surveillance capacities of the U.S. Navy, allowing it to keep a close eye on waters critical to the flow of the global oil and shipping. Trade at sea has been targeted in recent years as Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers collapsed.

“By using unmanned systems, we can just simply see more. They’re high-reliability and remove the human factor,” Cooper said on the sidelines of a defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi, adding the systems are “the only way to cover on whatever gaps that we have today.”
Cooper said he hopes the drone force using artificial intelligence would be operational by the summer of 2023 to put more “eyes and ears on the water.”

The Bahrain-based 5th Fleet includes the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all oil passes. It also stretches as far as the Red Sea reaches near the Suez Canal, the waterway in Egypt linking the Mideast to the Mediterranean, and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait off Yemen.

The high seas have witnessed a series of assaults and escalations in recent years, following former President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the nuclear deal and reimpose devastating sanctions.

A maritime shadow war has played out as oil tankers have been seized by Iranian forces and suspicious explosions have struck vessels in the region, including those linked to Israeli and Western firms. Iran has denied involvement in the attacks, despite evidence from the West to the contrary.

“It’s been well-established that Iran is the No. 1 in the primary regional threat we are addressing,” Cooper said. “There’s the ballistic missile, cruise missile and UAV (drone) component, both in their capability and their mass proliferation, as well as well as the proxy forces.”

Iran sponsors proxy militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen that give it a military reach across the region.

As Yemen's 7-year-old civil war grinds on, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels have dispatched bomb-laden drone boats toward Saudi waters that have damaged vessels and oil facilities.

“What the Houthis are doing, it is an entirely completely different operation that’s offensively oriented,” Cooper said. “What we are doing is inherently defensively oriented.”

There has also been a recent string of tense encounters between Iranian and American naval boats in Mideast waters. The confrontations have underscored the risk of an armed clash between the nations.

Notably, however, Cooper said the U.S. has not seen such an episode in the past few months, as diplomats in Vienna attempt to resuscitate the tattered atomic accord.

“If you look back over the last couple of months, I would say it’s status quo,” Cooper said. “There have been some periods where they have had an uptick in activity. ... The overwhelming majority of these interactions are safe and professional.”

Iran's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The shared threat of Iran has prompted a rapid realignment of politics in the Middle East. In 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized ties with Israel in a series of U.S-brokered accords.

Those warm relations have even extended into a form of military diplomacy. Israel for the first time joined in a massive U.S.-led naval exercise in the region earlier this month, publicly participating alongside other Gulf Arab states with which it has no relations, including Saudi Arabia.
Cooper said that Israel likely would join in the Navy's unmanned naval drone task force in the region.

“I would expect exercises in the future where we would work side by side,” he said.
 

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EDGE Unveils Swarming Drones Application for Unmanned Aerial Systems at UMEX 202 February 22, 2022

  • Innovative application of AI technology allows drones to ‘swarm’ together in coordinated mission
  • Swarming drones offer increased defensive and offensive options to military forces

View attachment 19223
Ground-launched HALCON Hunter 2 Swarming Drones (Photo: AETOSWire)


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates--(BUSINESS WIRE)--EDGE, an advanced technology group for defence and beyond, and one of the top 25 defence contractors globally, has unveiled swarming drones, its latest application for unmanned aerial systems (UAS), on the first day of the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference (UMEX 2022), taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) until 23 February.

Participating as the event’s official Strategic Partner in its second appearance at UMEX, EDGE showcased its swarming drones, which are based on the Hunter 2 series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) developed by HALCON, a regional leader in the production and supply of precision-guided weapons and UAS. Designed to ensure a decisive edge in combat, the ground-launched drones fly in formation to perform a coordinated mission that can overwhelm an adversary.

Leveraging advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the tactical drones share information with one another to track and maintain their relative positions, and to effectively engage targets. Featuring a maximum take-off weight of 8kg, the swarm of drones are agile and responsive while being directed to their target, which may include enemy fighter jets on the tarmac at a military base, or an incoming convoy of enemy armoured vehicles, for example.

The drones are equipped to operate at cruising speeds that support mission success, with a significant communications range and healthy flight endurance. The winged UAVs can be deployed in a matter of seconds, featuring a wingspan of 1.44m and a length of 1.25m.

Commenting on the addition of swarming drones to HALCON’s already impressive array of UAVs, CEO Saeed Al Mansoori said, “We see AI playing a critical role in the advancement of the defence sector and beyond, and EDGE and HALCON are determined to remain at the cutting-edge of these developments that are shaping our sector and the wider world, from our base in the UAE. The level of autonomy afforded by these swarming drones is a significant achievement for us, and we are committed to fast-tracking R&D investments in these domains to bring related products to market with speed in the areas of autonomous systems and smart munitions.”

The EDGE stand at UMEX exemplifies HALCON’s technology leadership within the UAV domain, with products including its Shadow 25 and Shadow 50 UAVs; Hunter series of drones and tube launchers; and the recently launched REACH-S unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), on display.

UMEX is the only event in the Middle East dedicated to drones, robots, unmanned systems, and their components, and offers EDGE the opportunity to feature its state-of-the-art capabilities and solutions.

Attendees of UMEX can visit EDGE and its participating entities at stand A25.

View video here.

Following first demonstration, Edge unveils swarming drones based on AI technology

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ABU DHABI — Halcon, a subsidiary of UAE’s Edge Group, unveiled a tube-launched swarming drone system known as Hunter 2-S on the first day of the Unmanned Systems Exhibition here.

Hunter 2-S is part of the family of the Hunter 2 series of unmanned aerial vehicles. These drones are expected to share information with each other for tracking and maintaining positions and engaging with the right target.


“Through a certain algorithm, the drones can communicate with each other through [a] main channel, which communicates to all of the drones, giving each of them a certain mission to fly to the target,” Saeed Al Mansoori, Halcon’s chief executive, told Defense News.

Al Mansoori told Defense News the communication channel allow the drones to maintain a certain flight profile, particularly when they divide into a smaller group to hit a target.

The maximum take-off weight for Hunter 2-S is 8 kilograms, or nearly 18 pounds. It has a wingspan of 1.44 meters, or just shy of 5 feet, and length of 1.25 meters. The swarm’s targets may include enemy fighter jets on the tarmac at a military base or an incoming convoy of enemy armored vehicles.


Al Mansoori told Defense News the swarming drones application can fire 36 drones and control them. “They are equipped with [friend or foe identification] systems,” he added.

Each Hunter 2-S tube launcher can carry 21 drones, but Al Mansoori told Defense News the company aims at launching and controlling up to 70 drones, launched from one truck equipped with 3 launchers.

Though no contracts have yet been signed for the swarming drones, Al Mansoori said the company has seen interest from the UAE armed forces.

The company plans the first testing of the complete system in 2023 and production by 2025.


“We had the first demonstration internally this week,” he said. “One drone was launched from the tube, spread its wings, the engine worked and started flying. The first trial was successful but we will develop the flying performance.”

Hunter 2-S uses 3D printed parts, specifically the aerospace qualified thermoplastic material.
 

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UAE’s Edge Group to release tube-launched Hunter 10 drone in 2023

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Emirati defense firm Halcon plans to begin offering its tube-launched Hunter 10 drone in early 2023, the CEO of the Edge Group subsidiary told Defense News

“The development of the tube-launched Hunter 10 drone is advancing successfully,” Saeed Al Mansoori added. The first prototype of the Hunter 10 was unveiled during the 2021 Dubai Airshow near its 58-kilogram (128-pound) tube launcher.


The drone weighs 10 kilograms, has a 4.2-meter wingspan and has a length of 3.4 meters. It has a takeoff weight of 47 kilograms and can be fired from the back of an armored or artillery vehicle.

The drone, which has an electric engine, can carry a 10-kilogram payload, fly at a maximum altitude of 2,500 meters and operate at a cruising speed of 60 knots. It’s designed to perform reconnaissance and attack missions, and has a 40-minute endurance.
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The launcher for the Hunter 10 drone was on display at the 2021 Dubai Airshow. (Agnes Helou/Staff)

Al Mansoori said his company will showcase 20 products during the UMEX 2022 trade show, which is focused on unmanned technology and takes place Feb. 21-23.


“Edge will display a range of Halcon’s unmanned, precision-guided systems including the Shadow 25 and Shadow 50 UAVs; Hunter series of drones and tube launchers; the recently launched Reach-S [unmanned combat aerial vehicle]; and the Remote Control Container System,” he told Defense News.

Unmanned systems made by Halcon don’t currently use 5G telecommunication networks, but Al Mansoori said the company has a technology road map that includes the integration of 5G, satellite and other communications technologies into its drones.

At the IDEX defense conference last year, Halcon unveiled SkyKnight, a radar-equipped missile for integration into the Oerlikon air defense system, made by German company Rheinmetall. SkyKnight is the first missile system designed and manufactured in the United Arab Emirates that can counter rockets, artillery and mortars. It was designed to mitigate these threats at a range of up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

“Development of the actual SkyKnight system commenced in August 2020 with a full-strength team. Key milestones achieved since that time include the first missile tests out of a canister; full system requirement reviews for user needs and system design; subsystem design; and wind tunnel test model design and manufacturing,” Al Mansoori said.
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