Robots, Droids and Drones: April 2020

April 23, 2020 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment


AeroVironment Unveils Hybrid VTOL Drone.

AeroVironment is introducing a new lightweight, fully automated, hybrid vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) intelligence drone, Quantix Recon.


The four-rotor Quantix Recon intelligence drone takes off and lands vertically but flies horizontally for up to 45 minutes. (AeroVironment photo)

Quantix Recon delivers high resolution, geo-referenced terrain, vegetation and infrastructure imagery for ground forces, according to the California-based unmanned aircraft maker. “It’s actionable intelligence in minutes,” Brian Young, AeroVironment’s Product Line General Manager for Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (TUAS) told an online  press briefing April 22.

Quantix Recon, which looks like a small airplane standing on its tail, is a five-pound (2.7 kilogram) unmanned aircraft that takes off and lands vertically, but flies horizontally. It stands 1.7 feet (51.8 centimeters) tall, with a wingspan of 1.3 feet (97.5 cm). Four battery-powered electric motors can keep the drone aloft for up to 45 minutes and withstand winds of 20 miles per hour.

Its dual 18-megapixel cameras can capture both high resolution true color and multispectral, geo-referenced imagery. And on-board processing allows users to immeditaely view the high resolution geospatial imagery on a tablet that comes with the aircraft, as soon as it lands.  Quantix Recon can survey up to 1.8 square kilometers (0.6 miles) or 20 linera kms (12.4 miles) on a single flight.

Because it doesn’t rely on radio signals during flight, Quantix Recon is stealthy and unaffected by radio jammers. The drone is described as man-portable but the wings are neither fold-able nor removable, so it can’t fit in a rucksack. However, one person can transport and operate it. The only assembly before flight is attaching the propellers to the four rotors. See a video of the UAS in action here.

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Carrier-Based Refueling Drone Update.

The U.S. Navy has awarded Boeing a modified contract for three additional MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueling aircraft. That brings the total number of aircraft Boeing is manufacturing for the Navy to seven, according to Seapower.

The Navy awarded Boeing an $805 million contract in August 2018, to build the MQ-25, the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft. The MQ-25 is designed to provide the Navy with a much-needed refueling capability, allowing for better use of combat strike fighters by extending the range of deployed F/A-18 Super Hornets and  EA-18G Growlers — both made by Boeing — and Lockheed Martin’s F-35C, the Navy variant of the joint strike fighter.


The MQ-25 unmanned carrier-based test aircraft comes in for landing after its first flight, September 19, 2019, at MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois. The Boeing-owned test asset, known as T1, flew two hours to validate the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Boeing)

Boeing recently concluded the first round of flight testing for its MQ-25 test asset, known as T1, resulting in nearly 30 hours in the air at various speeds and altitudes. The aircraft is undergoing a planned modification that includes installation of an aerial refueling store (ARS) under the left wing. Flight testing with the ARS will resume later this year.

The aerial refueling drone grew out of a Navy program to develop an autonomous carrier-based unmanned combat aerial vehicle to provide a stealthy unmanned strike asset to the fleet. However, in 2016 the Pentagon changed the program entirely to create a UAV for for aerial refueling to extend the range of manned fighters.

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Iran’s New Drones.

A large number of new combat and reconnaissance drones were delivered to the Iranian army on April 19, according to the Radio Farda website.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-linked news agency Tasnim stated the drones include new generations of Atlas and Ababil drones, adding that the two models Ababil-3 and Karrar had been showcased previously.

The unmanned Aerial Vehicles are to be used by the Air Force and Air Defense Units of Iran’s conventional army, the report said. Iran has introduced these high-cost drones while it has been complaining about the adverse impact of U.S. sanctions on its economy.

Radio Farda is the Persian language broadcaster at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. For more, read here

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Assessing Replacement for RQ-7 Raven.

The U.S. Army has begun testing four types of vertical take off and landing (VTOL) drones to assess what it will need to replace the RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Army Assessing RQ-7 Shadow replacement

(Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division conduct an engine start on the Arcturus JUMP 20 drone during the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System capabilities assessment at Fort Riley, Kansas on April 8, 2020 (U.S. Army photo: Program Executive Office Aviation)

The 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team began soldier-operated flights April 7, 2020 during the Army Futures Command-directed Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) capabilities assessment at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The troops are evaluating selected unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to define the capabilities needed in the next generation UAS for brigade combat teams. Data gathered during the assessment will be critical to determining the requirements for the RQ-7 Shadow replacement.

The 1st ABCT have been demonstrating the Arcturus UAV JUMP 20, one of four VTOL UAS procured for the assessment. The JUMP 20, it is the largest of the selected systems weighing 210 pounds with an 18-foot wingspan. Despite the size, it has a reduced acoustic signature compared to the Shadow.

Other Army units participating in the assessment have been assigned the Martin V-Bat, Textron’s Aerosonde HQ, L3 Harris FVR-90 and a second Arcturus UAV JUMP 20 are scheduled to begin in the coming months.

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Towed Array Sonar for Unmanned Boat.

Israeli defense electronic company, Elbit Systems has integrated the Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar for Unmanned Surface Vessels (TRAPS-USV) with Elbit’s Seagull USV.

The sea trials included several deployment and recovery cycles, towing at different speeds and transmission at various power levels. The TRAPS-USV is a compact variant of the TRAPS, a technology that is intended for detection, classification, localization and tracking of submarines. TRAPS versions are containerized or permanent-fit for any size, diverse-purpose vessel, according to Seapower.

The TRAPS-USV variant is lighter but maintains all acoustic active sonar capabilities of TRAPS. TRAPS-USV is the compact and powerful low frequency towed sonar that was recently introduced by Geospectrum, Elbit’s wholly owned Canadian subsidiary.

To see a video, click here.

Entry filed under: Air and Missile Defense, Aircraft, Army, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Technology, U.S. Navy, Unmanned Aircraft, Unmanned Systems, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (April 17, 2020) FRIDAY FOTO (April 24, 2020)

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April 2020


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