Unmanned aerial vehicles | UAVs

Eagle1

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GENERAL ATOMICS DEMONSTRATES SATCOM-ENABLED UAV LAUNCH AND RECOVERY
Bilal Khan
Jan 23, 2018


General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. Photo source: General Atomics

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) announced that it has successfully demonstrated its satellite communications (SATCOM)-enabled Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) through its MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

In an official press release, General Atomics states that the ATLC will enable MQ-9B users to taxi the MQ-9B through SATCOM directly. This SATCOM-enabled Launch and Recovery Element (LRE) will negate the need for ground-control stations (GCS) to manage UAV LRE (i.e. take-off and landing).

When relying solely on GCS, drone operators will face a range limit set by the earth’s curvature (though it can also include obstructions, such as mountains). SATCOM enables drone users to operate their aircraft at beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) range.

Currently, the GCS would manage the take-off and flight until it must ‘hand-off’ control to SATCOM (and SATCOM would hand-off to the GCS for landing). General Atomics’ system will remove this process.

General Atomics states that the Royal Air Force’s MQ-9Bs – scheduled for delivery in the early 2020s – will be the first drones to incorporate SATCOM LRE. By removing the need for GCS, MQ-9B operations require fewer personnel and a reduced infrastructure presence for forward deployed operations.

“MQ-9B is continuing its momentous development, which now includes SATCOM taxi, takeoff, and landing capability,” said David R. Alexander, General Atomics’ President of Aircraft Systems. “When we partnered with the RAF … we identified SATCOM ATLC and SATCOM taxi as important safety and efficiency features, and we’re proud to have demonstrated it successfully using one of our capital aircraft.”

The MQ-9B is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV capable of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations and deploying guided air-to-surface munitions, such as anti-tank guided missiles. It has a payload of 1,700 kg available through seven external hardpoints.

In addition (or as an alternative) to munitions, the MQ-9B can also be equipped with various sensors, including multi-mode radars, maritime surveillance radars and signals intelligence systems.

The MQ-9B has an endurance of 27 hours (or 35 hours with a range extension kit) and flight ceiling of 45,000 ft, enabling end-users to undertake long-endurance ISR operations over land and at-sea. Countries could use the MQ-9B as a relatively low-cost and low-risk (from a personnel safety standpoint) means for building situational awareness and, in counterinsurgency environments, seeking and neutralizing threats.

https://quwa.org/2018/01/23/general-atomics-demonstrates-satcom-enabled-uav-launch-and-recovery/?utm_source=Quwa+Free&utm_campaign=d9afeec203-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_290f015d1a-d9afeec203-206475549
 

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Drone Delivery Canada Commences Testing on Raven X1400
22 Jan, 18,

View attachment 5386
Drone Delivery Canada ‘DDC or the Company’ (TSX.V:FLT OTC:TAKOF), is pleased to announce that it will start testing its Raven X1400 cargo delivery drone in Q1 of 2018.

The Raven X1400 delivery drone is engineered to provide pay load capacities of up to 25lbs and designed to fly approximately 60km. The Raven X1400 boasts a larger payload compared to DDC’s Sparrow X1000 Drone which had its Declaration of Compliance accepted by Transport Canada in December 2017. The addition of the Raven X1400 Delivery Drone is designed to meet the challenging weather conditions of Northern Canada and provide larger payloads should the demand for such be present.

To date, DDC has identified approximately 1000 Northern remote communities in Canada where both the Raven X1400 and Sparrow X1000 delivery payloads would both meet and exceed community requirements in terms of deliver payloads and travel distances.

“We continue to develop our platform to expand our capabilities to meet and exceed client requirements,” commented Tony Di Benedetto, CEO. “While doing so, we now simply just look to integrate our FLYTE Management System into a newer airframe design to expand the fleet.”

The Raven X1400 is fully integrated with the proprietary DDC FLYTE management system. The Raven X1400, unlike the Sparrow X1000, will provide a unique and highly sought after dual payload configuration for both static and tethered deployment. Tethered deployment is a new technology which DDC has been developing over the past twenty-four months which the Company considers revolutionary and quite possibly the future for delivery in urban settings as it is not Drone Spot specific but rather never lands and deploys its payload by tether while hovering above at a height of approximately 100 feet.

DDC will commence testing of the Raven at its in-house testing laborator

http://helihub.com/2018/01/22/drone-delivery-canada-commences-testing-on-raven-x1400/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+HelihubNews+(HeliHub.com+»+Daily+News+Update)&utm_content=Yahoo!+Mail
I can get it on BestBuy
 

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AVIC TO LAUNCH NEW WING LOONG UAV VARIANT IN 2018
Jan 25, 2018

Bilal Khan

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) will launch a new variant of the Wing Loong-series of medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) – the Wing Loong ID (or I-D).

Reported by China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua on January 25, AVIC subsidiary the Chengdu Aircraft Design & Research Institute (CADI) will conduct the maiden flight of the Wing Loong ID in 2018. The Wing Loong ID will also enter the market by the end of this year.

The Wing Loong ID will be a direct improvement of the Wing Loong I, which first flew in 2007 and has been exported to foreign customers (especially in the Middle East) since at least 2012.

Li Yidong, CADI’s vice chief designer and the chief designer of the Wing Loong series, reportedly said that the Wing Loong ID will be more capable and more affordable than the Wing Loong I. Changes include an increase in flight ceiling, endurance, internal and external payload along with a higher-output engine.

“The Wing Loong ID is the first generation of improved reconnaissance-strike UAS [unmanned aerial system] in China. With other members of the family, it will help enhance the influence of Wing Loong brand in the global military trade market,” said Li Yidong.

Analyst Henri Kenhmann of the East Pendulum website reports, quoting CADI director JI Xiao Guang, that CADI expects the Wing Loong-series to secure €1.9 billion in sales to domestic and overseas clients over the next five years. It also seems that the Wing Loong ID’s airframe will be built from only composites.

Notes & Comments:

Originally designated Pterodactyl, the Wing Loong MALE UAV-series competes with fellow-AVIC subsidiary China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)’s CH-4-series in the market of strike-capable ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) drones. Between the two, AVIC has been able to secure a leading position in the Middle East and Central Asian markets. Saudi Arabia is believed to be among the Wing Loong’s users, though it is unclear if Riyadh is behind the marquee purchase of Wing Long II, the first major iterative variant of the Wing Loong and CADI’s largest overseas drone sales to-date.

AVIC may be intending to have the Wing Loong ID directly supplant the Wing Loong I and to complement the Wing Loong II. In effect, the Wing Loong ID would be the lower-cost alternative to the Wing Loong II. With the Wing Loong ID, AVIC would have a means through which it can aggressively expand its market-share in the market, especially in cost-sensitive markets such as Latin America and Sub Saharan Africa.

It will be interesting to see how other drone makers will respond. The bulk of the U.S. industry’s efforts are focused on supplying aircraft to the U.S. and NATO markets, but Textron is looking to compete in those as well as other markets with the Nightwarden UAV. Likewise, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has been marketing its Anka UAV to Middle East and Southeast Asian markets, the latter – especially where Beijing does not notably strong defence relations or customers – could be viable for TAI. Latin America could be a key market which could see genuine competition (which had been lacking in the Middle East and Central Asia due to the U.S.’ refusal to supply armed drones, freeing the space for China). The likes of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Argentina, while relatively cost-sensitive, are still capable of executing large purchases of big-ticket items. This market could be key for AVIC and TAI, especially following the exit of Harpia Sistemas – a joint-venture between Israel’s Elbit and Brazil’s Embraer and Avibras– as an active factor to design, develop and manufacture UAVs in Brazil for this region.

https://quwa.org/2018/01/25/avic-to-launch-new-wing-loong-uav-variant-in-2018/?utm_source=Quwa+Free&utm_campaign=68b5073abc-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_290f015d1a-68b5073abc-206475549

Wing-Loong-ID-692x360.jpg
 

Eagle1

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CHINA TO EXPAND DRONE OFFERINGS WITH STAR SHADOW UCAV
Feb 08, 2018
Bilal Khan

Star-Shadow-Air-Recognition-01-692x360.jpg

Star UAV System Company Star Shadow UCAV. Photo source: Air Recognition

At the 2018 Singapore Air Show, a company from Chengdu – Star UAV System Company – is promoting its stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), the Star Shadow, to prospective export customers.

Designed as a blended-wing and twin jet-engine platform, the Star Shadow will have a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 4,000 kg, endurance of 12 hours and cruising speed as well as cruising altitude of 600 km/h and nearly 40,000 ft, respectively. It will have a radius of 2,000 km and payload of 400 kg.

Star UAV aims to have the Star Shadow fly in 2019. The Star Shadow’s turbofan engine – i.e. the 200 kg TWS800 – is being designed and developed by a sister company (Shephard Media). As per IHS Jane’s, the engines are being developed by the Chengdu Chinese Academy of Sciences Aircraft Engine Co Ltd.

Interestingly, China’s state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is offering a jet-powered UAV platform of its own in the Cloud Shadow. Like the Star Shadow, the Cloud Shadow has a payload of 400 kg, but with a cruising altitude of 46,000 ft and cruising speed of 620 km/h.

However, the Star Shadow appears to have an internal payload bay, positioning it as a potentially credible stealth attack platform. In fact, Star UAV System Company claimed (via IHS Jane’s) that the Star Shadow will have a RCS of 0.1 m2. Its sensors and weapons suite has yet to be detailed.

Notes & Comments:
China’s UAV offerings, which encompass both state-backed designs from AVIC and beyond (through Star UAV System Company and Tengoen Tech) demonstrates a truly robust UAV industry, one spanning from the actual aircraft platforms to propulsion, onboard electronics and specially designed weapons. In fact, the undisclosed customer of the newly-launched Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) Wing Loong II appears to be the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which had ordered the Wing Loong I earlier.
Having long established the lead as a supplier of armed UAVs, especially to the non-NATO market (i.e. the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia), China is poised to reinforce its position through the availability of a diverse range of designs. The Star Shadow – along with the CH-5 and Cloud Shadow – point towards a willingness to offer potent attack capability to prospective customers who would have categorically no chance to acquire an analogous solution from the U.S. or Europe.

https://quwa.org/2018/02/08/china-to-expand-drone-offerings-with-star-shadow-ucav/?utm_source=Quwa+Free&utm_campaign=f05511823d-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_290f015d1a-f05511823d-206475549
 

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General Atomics enlists Boeing for its MQ-25 Stingray proposal
The company named six other partners on its entry to the competition to design and build the MQ-25 for the U.S. Navy.

By James LaPorta
Feb. 14, 2018

General-Atomics-enlists-Boeing-for-its-MQ-25-Stingray-proposal.jpg

Boeing's unmanned aerial tanker aircraft system, which it unveiled in December. Photo courtesy of Boeing


Feb. 14 (UPI) -- General Atomics has announced their collaboration with Boeing, among other companies, to develop and build the MQ-25 Stingray carrier-based tanker drone for the U.S. Navy.

Tuesday's announcement comes as the Navy has suggested in its latest budget request that it will only order four of the drone tankers during the next several years, despite years of development on the program.

The Navy has for several years been seeking an unmanned aerial system with refueling capabilities to support and extend the combat range of war fighting aircraft like the Boeing manufactured F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II.

"As the world's premier quick reaction unmanned aircraft system manufacturer, we are committed to delivering the most effective, affordable, sustainable, and adaptable carrier-based aerial refueling system at the lowest technical and schedule risk," David. R. Alexander, president of GA-ASI, said in a press release.

General Atomics says it has designed a purpose-built MQ-25A Stingray that is specifically designed for tanker refueling missions while exceeding all the the Navy's design requirements, including carrier integration.

In addition to Boeing, General Atomics said it is working with Pratt and Whitney, UTC Aerospace Systems, L3 Technologies, BAE Systems, Rockwell Collins, GKN Airospace's Fokker and GA's own Electromagnetic Systems and Systems Integration divisions.

"This collaboration of the best in aerospace industry will provide the U.S. Navy with a fleet ready unmanned tanker with exceptional growth, well within the Navy's preferred timeline," Alexander said.

Boeing Vice President and General Manager Chris Raymond said the company "is pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with General Atomics on its MQ-25 proposal," though the company told The Drive it will also continue designing its own entry in the design competition.

Boeing's version of the MQ-25 was unveiled in December 2017, with the company saying at the time that its unmanned aerial system can be integrated with the same catapult, launch and recovery system on U.S. Navy carriers for deployment.

In September 2016, Boeing and Lockheed Martin each received $43 millioncontracts from the Navy for work on development of the MQ-25, and Northrop Grumman received a $35 million contract for development on the project a month later.

Last October, Northrop Grumman pulled out of the competition, leaving Boeing, Lockheed and General Atomics. The Navy is expected to choose a design sometime later this year.

https://www.upi.com/Defense-News/2018/02/14/General-Atomics-enlists-Boeing-for-its-MQ-25-Stingray-proposal/1351518632427/
 

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Lockheed Martin Launches Unmanned Vehicle Control Software that Can Simultaneously Control Multiple UAV Types, Operating Anywhere on Earth
Feb. 20, 2018

VCSi is based on 25 years of experience and 1.5 million flight hours

1.jpg


CALGARY, Alberta,- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) software has been simultaneously flying, on average, at least six unmanned aircraft during every hour of the last 25 years, completing missions as diverse as reconnaisance, inspection, mapping and targeting. Today, Lockheed Martin is launching VCSi, a new vehicle control software, as the culmination of more than two decades of experience and 1.5 million hours of operational use.

Lockheed Martin will unveil VCSi – commercial software that enables operators to simultaneously control dozens of unmanned vehicles and conduct information, surveillance and reconaissance missions – during the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi this month.

"VCSi is a safe and reliable software platform that can be adapted to any vehicle – from one you can hold in your hand, to a 50,000-pound machine; from a vehicle that flies for a few minutes, to a vehicle that flies for months at a time," said John Molberg, business development manager, Lockheed Martin CDL Systems. "The user can integrate as many vehicles as required to complete their missions, including boats, quadcopters, fixed-wing aircraft or even high-altitude pseudo satellites. Across commercial or military missions, VCSi is adaptable to the challenge and further extends the power of the human-machine team."

VCSi's major enhancements include:

  • Multi-Vehicle: Control interfaces to allow for true 1:n control of dissimilar vehicles anywhere on earth
  • Intuitive: Lockheed Martin further advanced its fly-by-mouse interface to enable easier training and reduce operator/analyst task loads
  • Affordable: Priced competitively with all unmanned systems in mind, customers can buy essential modules for their mission set
  • Modular: Offers a robust plug-in architecture, which allows for custom content to be added by the user or selected from pre-existing modules
  • International: Commercial software, made in Canada and free of export restrictions
VCSi is designed around the NATO Standardization Agreement known as STANAG 4586, which supports unmanned vehicle interoperability. Customers can build attachments or plug-ins beyond 4586 to customize the VCSi software, which also supports multiple languages and non-Latin scripts. VCSi provides advanced 3D visualization of vehicles and airspace, and it is at the forefront of integration into unmanned traffic management systems.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the VCS unmanned control product family, which has accumulated more than 1.5 million flight hours by operators controlling 40 different vehicles across several dozen companies.

Lockheed Martin has five decades of experience in unmanned and autonomous systems for air, land and sea. From the depths of the ocean to the rarified air of the stratosphere, Lockheed Martin's unmanned systems help militaries, civil and commercial customers accomplish their most difficult challenges.

https://news.lockheedmartin.com/2018-02-20-Lockheed-Martin-Launches-Unmanned-Vehicle-Control-Software-that-Can-Simultaneously-Control-Multiple-UAV-Types-Operating-Anywhere-on-Earth
 

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Lockheed Martin Launches Unmanned Vehicle Control Software that Can Simultaneously Control Multiple UAV Types, Operating Anywhere on Earth
Feb. 20, 2018

VCSi is based on 25 years of experience and 1.5 million flight hours

View attachment 5791

CALGARY, Alberta,- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) software has been simultaneously flying, on average, at least six unmanned aircraft during every hour of the last 25 years, completing missions as diverse as reconnaisance, inspection, mapping and targeting. Today, Lockheed Martin is launching VCSi, a new vehicle control software, as the culmination of more than two decades of experience and 1.5 million hours of operational use.

Lockheed Martin will unveil VCSi – commercial software that enables operators to simultaneously control dozens of unmanned vehicles and conduct information, surveillance and reconaissance missions – during the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi this month.

"VCSi is a safe and reliable software platform that can be adapted to any vehicle – from one you can hold in your hand, to a 50,000-pound machine; from a vehicle that flies for a few minutes, to a vehicle that flies for months at a time," said John Molberg, business development manager, Lockheed Martin CDL Systems. "The user can integrate as many vehicles as required to complete their missions, including boats, quadcopters, fixed-wing aircraft or even high-altitude pseudo satellites. Across commercial or military missions, VCSi is adaptable to the challenge and further extends the power of the human-machine team."

VCSi's major enhancements include:

  • Multi-Vehicle: Control interfaces to allow for true 1:n control of dissimilar vehicles anywhere on earth
  • Intuitive: Lockheed Martin further advanced its fly-by-mouse interface to enable easier training and reduce operator/analyst task loads
  • Affordable: Priced competitively with all unmanned systems in mind, customers can buy essential modules for their mission set
  • Modular: Offers a robust plug-in architecture, which allows for custom content to be added by the user or selected from pre-existing modules
  • International: Commercial software, made in Canada and free of export restrictions
VCSi is designed around the NATO Standardization Agreement known as STANAG 4586, which supports unmanned vehicle interoperability. Customers can build attachments or plug-ins beyond 4586 to customize the VCSi software, which also supports multiple languages and non-Latin scripts. VCSi provides advanced 3D visualization of vehicles and airspace, and it is at the forefront of integration into unmanned traffic management systems.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the VCS unmanned control product family, which has accumulated more than 1.5 million flight hours by operators controlling 40 different vehicles across several dozen companies.

Lockheed Martin has five decades of experience in unmanned and autonomous systems for air, land and sea. From the depths of the ocean to the rarified air of the stratosphere, Lockheed Martin's unmanned systems help militaries, civil and commercial customers accomplish their most difficult challenges.

https://news.lockheedmartin.com/2018-02-20-Lockheed-Martin-Launches-Unmanned-Vehicle-Control-Software-that-Can-Simultaneously-Control-Multiple-UAV-Types-Operating-Anywhere-on-Earth
Don't get me wrong, but isn't it a step closer to Skynet? This incorporates AI partially.

Some movies do predict the future.
 

Eagle1

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Don't get me wrong, but isn't it a step closer to Skynet? This incorporates AI partially.

Some movies do predict the future.
Very Valid point!
 

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Air Force Wants to Decrease Manning for Its UAVs
24 Feb 2018
By Oriana Pawlyk

ORLANDO -- The Air Force wants to operate its fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles more efficiently, and is looking for ways to reduce the number of airmen needed to manage them while still getting better intelligence collection.

“We’re going to change the game -- I am working with the whole of the Air Force to build a strategy and an architecture that gives us more ISR for less people, for less money,” said Lt. Gen. Steven L. Kwast, the commander of Air Education and Training Command.

It’s about “more situational awareness to be able to do more things...more efficiently,” Kwast said during a media roundtable here during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium.

During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions were greatly needed for troops on the ground, drones such as MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers were the heavy hitters in overwatch, Kwast said. But, he noted, that was just a band-aid solution at the time.

“The [remotely piloted aircraft] … requires much more architecture than, say, an F-16 squadron,” Kwast said. While the ratio of people to aircraft in manned aviation is roughly 1.5 to 1, he said, it takes about 10 people to operate one UAV at any given time.

“It is manpower intensive in a big way, and of course it’s very vulnerable to satellite comm[unications], to kinetic problems, to the [theater] it’s deployed to,” Kwast said.

He continued, “It doesn’t mean we have to live with that. We need to change that, because it’s too expensive. I have to be able to project power at a cheaper price point than my adversary, or I’ll be outspent.”

Last year, Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, then the head of AETC, said the service had more jobs for MQ-1 and MQ-9 drones than any other type of pilot position, and these communities were slated to grow even more in years to come. With the MQ-1 officially retiring from service March 9, more emphasis will be placed on Reaper crews, officials have said.

Additionally, officials recently met to pick the next enlisted airmen slated to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

The Air Force Personnel Center will decide on 40 new airmen -- an increase from last year's pool -- out of 134 applicants by the end of February, officials said.

While the Air Force is facing a pilot shortage, which includes the RPA field, the manpower levels need to be refined to understand where there are gaps in the enterprise, Kwast said, reiterating more can still be done with less..

The Air Force is now collecting data on how to best dictate a future strategy, but first needs to “know the elements that make this effective,” Kwast said, which could include leveraging new technologies, or perhaps artificial intelligence, to “wean ourselves from this massive manpower-intensive architecture we’re in.”

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/02/24/air-force-wants-decrease-manning-its-unmanned-vehicles.html
 

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Australia buys second MQ-4C Triton UAV
April 4, 2019

zoom
Illustration: US Navy photo of MQ-4C Triton

The Australian defense ministry announced it is buying the second of a planned fleet of six MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft.
Australia is acquiring the Tritons through a cooperative program with the United States Navy. The MQ-4C is being acquired to complement Poseidon P-8A maritime patrol aircraft operations.

Australian defense minister Christopher Pyne said the Triton acquisition was an important part of strengthening the security of Australia’s maritime boarders.

“The Triton – which will complement our manned P-8A Poseidon aircraft – will significantly enhance our anti-submarine warfare and maritime strike capability as well as our ability to monitor and secure Australia’s maritime approaches,” minister Pyne said.

“These capabilities help us protect our maritime area from threats such as people smuggling, and the exploitation of our natural resources from activities like illegal fishing.”

“The Tritons will also be able to undertake enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks to support whole-of-government operations.”

The approval of the second aircraft means that the project is on track to see the first Triton aircraft introduced into service in mid-2023 with all six planned to be delivered by late 2025, based at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia.

Australia buys second MQ-4C Triton UAV
 

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Thales highlights BRAIN modular unmanned system

Link: Thales highlights BRAIN modular unmanned system | Jane's 360


Thales disclosed fresh details on its BRAIN development, which comprises a central connection component that can be reconfigured into an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), and unmanned surface vessel (USV). Thales displayed BRAIN's handheld ground control station as well as the central connection component, with a series of modular kits that enables it to be configured as a quad-rotor UAV or 4x4 UGV.
 

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Raytheon gets $29m for work on US Navy LOCUST UAV prototype
June 28, 2018

zoom
Image Courtesy: ONR

The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded Raytheon a $29.7 million contract for work on the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) innovative naval prototype (INP).

As its name indicates, the LOCUST project is aimed at developing a system for the deployment of small, low-cost swarming UAVs to autonomously overwhelm an adversary.

Raytheon subsidiary BBN Technologies is already working on developing technology to direct and control swarms of small, autonomous air and ground vehicles under DARPA’s Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program.

In 2016, the company carried out demonstrations that successfully netted together 30 UAVs in a swarm, as part of the LOCUST program.

The UAV swarming system includes a tube-based launcher that can send UAVs into the air in rapid succession. The technology then utilizes information-sharing between the UAVs, enabling autonomous collaborative behavior in either defensive or offensive missions.

A video of a prototype test from 2015 was shared by the ONR and shows the system in action.

Raytheon is expected to complete work on the ONR contract by January 2020.


Raytheon gets $29m for work on US Navy LOCUST UAV prototype
 

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UK safety watchdog highlights Watchkeeper UAV shortfalls
Tim Ripley, London - Jane's Defence Weekly
18 April 2019

A British Army Watchkeeper on force protection operations out of Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, in September 2014. Subsequent Watchkeeper operations in the UK have met with less success. Source: Crown Copyright



Key Points
  • The British Army is still having issues operating its Watchkeepers, despite the UAVs having received their ‘release to service’ certification
  • Three Watchkeeper UAVs have crashed in recent years while on UK-based training sorties
UK safety investigators have identified significant technical problems with the British Army’s Thales Watchkeeper tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Shortfalls in the UAVs’ flight-control system and cold weather operations capability were revealed in two reports by the UK’s Defence Safety Authority (DSA) into two Watchkeeper crashes in 2017.

Lieutenant General Richard Felton, former director general of the Defence Safety Authority, criticised Thales, the manufacturer of the Watchkeeper, and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for “not fully understanding how the Watchkeeper works, not making the most of simulation or the exploitation of data, and providing a disproportionate level of complexity to those who fly Watchkeeper”.

The two service inquiry reports, focusing on accidents on 3 February and 24 March 2017 by Watchkeepers flying from West Wales Airport at Aberporth, were released on 11 April. The cause of the first crash was determined to be icing in the UAV’s pitot head that eventually confused its flight-control systems, resulting in it stalling. The next crash was believed to be caused by a computer failure in the Watchkeeper’s flight-control system that meant a back-up component was not working.

A service inquiry into another crash on 13 June 2017 is expected to be published soon, but Lt Gen Felton said there were common themes in all three incidents as each resulted in a Watchkeeper air vehicle being lost beyond repair. The reports recommend more than 50 modifications to the Watchkeeper system, improvements in operational processes, and changes to flight procedures.

 

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Turkey advances Anka-Aksungur MALE UAV development
Kelvin Wong, Singapore - Jane's International Defence Review
17 April 2019


Turkish Aerospace carried out the first test flight of the Anka-Aksungur medium-altitude long-endurance UAV on 20 March. Source: Turkish Aerospace

Turkish Aerospace is expanding the testing envelope of its internally funded Anka-Aksungur medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV) development with the aim of pushing the air vehicle into series production by the first quarter of 2020, company sources told Jane's .

The company earlier announced that a prototype of the twin-engine air vehicle had successfully performed its maiden flight - which lasted 4 hours 20 minutes - on 20 March. The air vehicle also demonstrated its automatic take-off and landing capabilities, it added.

Jane's understands that a second test had been conducted on 3 April near Ankara, which had a duration of 3 hours and was aimed at expanding the prototype's flight testing envelope.

The Anka-Aksungur UAV features a twin-boom airframe design supported by a retractable undercarriage and incorporating forward-mounted PD170 twin-turbocharged engines developed by Tusaş Engine Industries (TEI) with input from General Electric, followed by a set of high-mounted wings with slight dihedral and terminating in vertical stabilisers joined by a horizontal tailplane.

Jane's earlier reported that the 2.1 litre, water-cooled inline-4 PD170 engine - equipped with three bladed propellers in a tractor configuration - has a dry weight of 170 kg and can develop and maintain an output of 120hp at up to 30,000 ft (9,144 m) and 170hp at up to 20,000 ft. TEI expects an engine growth potential of up to 210hp with only minor modifications.

The air vehicle also features an overall length and height of 12 m and 3 m, respectively, with a wingspan of 24 m. Each wing is equipped with an integral fuel tank and can accommodate up to three hardpoints. According to the source, this arrangement provides the air vehicle with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) "in excess" of 3,000 kg and a payload capacity of 750 kg.

https://www.janes.com/article/87973/turkey-advances-anka-aksungur-male-uav-development
 

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APRIL 24, 2019
N.C. hospital delivering blood with drones in pioneering medical program
By Daniel Uria

UPS and California-based drone maker Matternet have partnered for the first FAA-sanctioned deliveries of medical samples in the United States. Photo courtesy Matternet

April 24 (UPI) -- The first-ever medical drone delivery program to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration has taken flight at a North Carolina hospital in a pioneering use of the devices in the healthcare field.

A small, white drone last month began delivering samples, including blood, between Raleigh's WakeMed Hospital surgical center and the primary testing lab at its main campus. In the following weeks, the supplies made daily flights that professionals hope will eventually transport life-saving products like blood to more rural locations.

The flights are conducted through a collaboration with United Parcel Service and California-based drone manufacturer Matternet and is overseen by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program.

"It was not a demo, it was not a test, it was the real deal. They're still flying, and it's been a real exciting time to get to see that happen here," transportation department communications officer James Pearce told UPI.

The three-year pilot program seeks to safely test the integration of drones into commercial airspace.

"North Carolina has always been a leader in aviation innovation," Bobby Walston, the transportation department's director of aviation, said in a statement.

The flights use Matternet's M2 quadcopter drone, which can carry medical payloads of up to about 5 pounds for more than 12 miles. Each flight begins with a medical professional loading a secure drone container with a medical sample or specimen. In about 3 minutes, it flies a path to and from a landing pad at WakeMed's main hospital.

Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos said it's a process the medical staff doesn't participate in.

"They don't touch the drone, they don't even see the drone," he said. "The system does the rest automatically with remote supervision."

Collaborators eventually want to take advantage of the drone's full range and ship samples to campuses around Wake County.

Dr. Stuart Ginn, a WakeMed ENT surgeon and director of innovations for the hospital, said his team first considered implementing drone technology after realizing the existing process for transporting blood samples was inefficient. He said lab samples accounted for 70 percent of what the hospital was shipping through couriers.

"That's a fine solution in some cases, but we've kind of been thinking about how theoretically, if drone technology is deployable, it could change the way we move things around in our system," he said.

Dan Gangon, UPS vice president of healthcare and life science strategy, said the high-tech deliveries eliminate inefficiencies in the current system, like traffic and multiple stops before delivery.

"The beauty about the drone network is it really cleans up that intracity congestion," he said. "It really ends up being a very efficient solution."

The pilot program is the first of its kind in the United States, but UPS and Matternet have launched similar programs overseas -- including thousands of delivery flights in Rwanda and Switzerland.

"Rwanda was a more rural application, and so while we did have some experience before this project came about, what we didn't have is a good, solid urban solution ... for the United States," Gagnon said.

Pearce said the state's Department of Transportation is examining what obstacles medical drone deliveries may pose and how to overcome them.

"We're figuring out things, like the safety of the drone as it flies over people," he said. "As well as how does a blood sample do when it's being flown by a drone at 200-300 feet?"

The FAA said it has looked at some of those potential obstacles. In an emailed statement, the agency said it granted the required waiver after reviewing safety practices at the transportation department, Matternet and WakeMed.

"How can we build a transportation system that can complete the task for medical assistance in a way that is more efficient than they are today?" Raptopoulos asked rhetorically.

If the pilot program is successful and the FAA grants more drone freedom, the collaborators plan to use the devices for more tasks. The next planned step is food delivery in Holly Springs, N.C., and then medical deliveries to rural hospitals.

"We've got these systems of hospitals that are hundreds of miles apart, and it can take hours to get supplies and equipment from place to place," Pearce said.

N.C. hospital delivering blood with drones in pioneering medical program
 

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