Posts tagged ‘UAV’

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Taiwan Military Shoots Down Drone; U.S. Navy Thwarts Iran Seagoing Drone Capture; Micro Drones for Ukraine

UPDATE: Updates with Taiwan shooting drone

DEFENSE

Taiwan Shoots Down Unidentified Drone

Taiwan says it shot down an unidentified civilian drone Thursday (September 1) in restricted airspace over one of its islands just a few kilometers from mainland China.

The drone was spotted above Lion Islet in the Kinmen County grouping of islands controlled by Taiwan about two and half miles (4 kilometers) from the city of Xiamen, China. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said the drone was shot down after warning flares failed to drive it away, CNN reported.

Unidentified drones have been reported in the area for four days in a row but Thursday’s incident was the first time one was shot down by Taiwan. Two days earlier, (Tuesday, August 30), Taiwanese soldiers shot flares at three unidentified drones that flew near Kinmen and fired warning shots at one that re-entered the area.

It is not clear who was flying the drones. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was “not aware of the situation” and that it was “pointless for (Taiwan) to exaggerate the tension.”

On Friday (September 2), Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the drone shoot-down was the most “appropriate” thing to do after repeated warnings. Su added that China should exercise restraint, Reuters reported.

Speaking to reporters, Su said Taiwan had repeatedly issued warnings and “asked them not to encroach on our doorstep.”

Chinese forces have been exercising near Taiwan since early August, following the visit to Taipei, Taiwan’s capital by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — which infuriated Beijing. China views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory, despite the strong objections of the government in Taipei.

At least two videos of recent drone trips have circulated widely on Chinese social media, in one of which Taiwanese soldiers were seen throwing stones at the craft.

Su said the videos were made for China’s “propaganda at home,” adding to the anger of Taiwan’s people. China’s foreign ministry dismissed Taiwan’s complaints about drones as nothing “to make a fuss about.”

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Iranian Attempt to Grab U.S. Seagoing Drone Foiled

The U.S. Navy says it prevented an Iranian ship from capturing one of the 5th Fleet’s unmanned surface vessels in international waters of the Arabian Gulf on the night of August 29-30.

U.S. sailors observed an Iranian vessel, identified as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) support ship Shahid Baziar towing a Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV) in an attempt to detain it. The Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt and MH-60S Sea Hawk launched from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 in Bahrain responded.

Screenshot of a video showing support ship Shahid Baziar, left, from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy unlawfully towing a  small Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV) in international waters of the Arabian Gulf as U.S. Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt approaches in response, August 30, 2022.  (U.S. Navy photo) Note: Sensitive data on the video are blacked out.

The Iranian vessel disconnecting the towing line, releasing the seagoing drone, and departed the area approximately four hours later, without further incident.

“IRGCN’s actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “U.S. naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting rules-based international order throughout the region.”

Nournews, an Iranian media outlet close to the country’s Supreme National Security Council, reported that the IRGC Navy “impounded” the U.S. vessel to secure safe shipping lanes and decided on its own to release it after briefing the American patrol ship about security and safe navigation, according to the Wall Street Journal, which noted more violent confrontations have recently occurred in recent weeks between U.S. forces and Iranian-backed militias. On August 15, an Iranian-backed militia in central Iraq attacked the U.S. base at al-Tanf, Syria, with two drones that were supplied by Tehran, U.S. officials say. No U.S. soldiers were hurt.

The Saildrone Explorer USV is equipped with sensors, radars and cameras for navigation and data collection. However, this technology is available commercially and does not store sensitive or classified information, the U.S. Navy said.

(U.S. Army photo by Corporal DeAndre Dawkins) Click photo to enlarge image.

Naval Forces Central Command launched the Saildrone Explorer in the Persian Gulf on January 27, following a month-long test period in the Gulf of Aqaba,. The USV is part of Task Force 59, headquartered in Bahrain, which stood up nearly a year ago to test unmanned and contractor-owned vessels in the Middle East. The goal of the task force is to have 100 unmanned platforms, belonging to the U.S. and allies, operating together by the end of 2023, USNI News reported.

Meanwhile, Austal USA and Saildrone Inc. have announced a strategic partnership to build cutting-edge, autonomous uncrewed (unmanned) surface vehicles. See story below in INDUSTRY section.

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Britain Supplying Micro Drones to Ukraine.

Target-spotting micro-drones, will be included in the next weapons package Britain will supply Unkraine, departing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced during a surprise visit to Kyiv.

Black Hornet micro drone. (U.S. Army photo)

 

The British announcement was light on details, except for saying 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, primarily used in urban warfare, are included in the package, Defense News reported August 24. . The micro-drones, made in Norway by American firm Teledyne FLIR, were originally developed by Norwegian company Prox Dynamics, now part of the U.S.-based sensor specialist. The company advertises the drone, which resembles a thin helicopter that can fit in the palm of a hand, for its stealthy operations as it scouts for nearby threats.

Johnson made the announcement on his third visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24. Johnson, who was forced from office in July, is effectively a caretaker prime minister while the ruling Conservative Party prepares to elect a new leader in early September.

London’s latest commitment brings the amount given in military and financial aid to more than £2.3 billion since the war began in February.

The Norwegian Defence Ministry, which partnered with Britain on the Black Hornet deal, said Oslo contributed upward of $9 million to the transaction. According to a ministry statement, Norway’s contributions to the British-led fund in support of Ukraine total roughly $41 million.

 

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INDUSTRY.

Saildrone Partners with Austal USA

Alabama-based shipbuilder Austal USA and Saildrone Inc. announced they are forming a strategic partnership to build cutting-edge, autonomous uncrewed surface vehicles.

The new partnership combines Saildrone’s uncrewed surface vehicle technology with Austal USA’s advanced manufacturing capabilities. The partnership provides the U.S. Navy and other government customers a cutting-edge solution for maritime domain awareness, hydrographic survey, and other missions requiring persistent wide area coverage, the partners said in an August 30 statement.

The partnership ensures that production of the Saildrone Surveyor will accelerate to meet the rapidly growing demand for the ground-breaking technology. The Surveyor was developed and designed by Saildrone and will be manufactured exclusively by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.

The Saildrone Surveyor, at 65 feet (20 meters) in length, is designed specifically for deep ocean mapping and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications, both above and below the surface. As with all Saildrone vehicles, the Surveyor is autonomous and uncrewed, offering extreme endurance, reliability and cost-effective operations. With its industry-leading expertise in aluminum shipbuilding, Austal USA is uniquely equipped to fabricate the Surveyor’s aluminum hulls and ensure rapid delivery to the fleet.

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Airbus Zephyr Tests Halted

Testing of Airbus’ long endurance Zephyr drone have been halted suddenly and further flight demonstrations of the solar-powered, uncrewed aircraft have been postponed until 2023, Defense News reports.

Flight tests unexpectedly concluded after completing a record 64 days aloft following an incident at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, according to U.S. Army Futures Command.

“Our team is working hard to gather and analyze important data following the unexpected termination of this flight,” Michael Monteleone, the director of the command’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team, said in a statement.

The team launched the aircraft June 15 and it remained flying until August 18 when it “encountered events that led to its unexpected termination,” according to the command. With a wingspan of just over 82 feet and weiging less than 166 pounds, the Zephyr drone shattered its own longevity record for time spent aloft as an uncrewed aircraft system in the process.  No injuries or risk to personnel or other aircraft resulted from the incident.

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Aerovironment Acquires Planck Aerosystems

AeroVironment announced August 13 it has acquired Planck Aerosystems, a small company that develops and supplies technology enabling autonomous operations by aircraft, ground and marine vehicles and vessels.

The transaction “significantly accelerates AeroVironment’s development of advanced autonomy capabilities for the company’s unmanned aircraft systems,” the Virginia-headquartred small and medium-sized drone maker said in a statement.

Planck is a small technology company based in San Diego, California and will be acquired by AeroVironment’s Petaluma-based medium unmanned aircraft systems (MUAS) business segment to focus on integrating its flight autonomy solutions, such as ACE™ (Autonomous Control Engine), into AeroVironment’s offerings to enable safe, autonomous takeoff and landing from moving platforms on land or at sea in GPS-denied environments.

Founded in 2014, Planck has worked closely with customers from the U.S. Department of Defense, security agencies, allied governments and offshore industrials to develop customer-centric unmanned aircraft solutions. Planck’s products include embedded technologies and fully integrated unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and leverage their deep technical expertise in UAS guidance and navigation, autonomy and artificial intelligence.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

August 31, 2022 at 11:38 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 15, 2022)

BIG NEW DRONE.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.) Click on the photo to enlarge image.

Team members secure batteries to the LIFT Hexa aircraft’s motors before its first flight at Duke auxiliary airfield near Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the U.S. Air Force announced July 14, 2022.

The LIFT Hexa, an electric, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or eVTOL, completed its flight test via remote control. The aircraft, which used 18 motors and propellers, flew for approximately 10 minutes and reached a height of about 50 feet.

The test was an important first step toward the incorporating the Hexa into operations at a controlled military airfield.  Duke Field is located North of Eglin’s main base. This flight was completed by Hexa 09, one of two aircraft stationed at Duke Field. Hexa 05 was used for the first test flight at Eglin in April.

The 413th Flight Test Squadron, the Air Force’s rotary wing developmental test experts, has partnered with AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Air Force and its Agility Prime program, to advance eVTOL test and experimentation.

July 14, 2022 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Maritime Unmanned Systems; NATO, Turkish, USAF Drones

Sea-Air-Space 2021. UPDATED

Among the topics frequently discussed at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition August 2-4 were unmanned systems and the challenge of the Arctic. We start off with where those two topics intersect.

Droids and Drones in the Arctic.

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star breaks ice in the Chukchi Sea, in late December 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Cynthia Oldham)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – The U.S. Coast Guard is exploring the use of unmanned aerial, surface and undersea systems in the harsh and distant environs of the Arctic.

Captain Thom Remmers told a briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition August 2 that unmanned underwater vehicles could “very easily and capably look for environmental spills” under the ice from passing tankers or oil drilling rigs.

The first big defense industry conference to return to an in-person format since the coronavirus pandemic shut down nearly all such events in 2020, Sea-Air-Space 2021 drew thousands of visitors and hundreds of exhibitors.

At his exhibit hall briefing, Remmers discussed the Coast Guard’s creation of an Unmanned Systems Cross-Functional Working Group to lead a service-wide effort to explore how unmanned systems could help the Coast Guard execute its mission. The Working Group was created on advice from the National Academies of Sciences for the Coast Guard to  “take a more strategic and accelerated approach to exploit the capabilities of existing and future unmanned systems.”

Remmers told SEAPOWER magazine the Coast Guard has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles on some icebreakers — like the Coast Guard Cutter Healy — to look for ice floes.  Unmanned systems could also provide “a long-range persistent MDA [maritime domain awareness] type of capability that we need up there,” Remmers added.

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Drones are Helpful, But Not Enough Up North.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — Unmanned systems may be a solution for handling dirty, dull or dangerous tasks in the Arctic, but they’re no substitute for a U.S. flagged ship when it comes establishing presence in the Far North, according to a  key Coast Guard Arctic expert.

“Unmanned systems are a great tool but they don’t deliver presence,” according to Coast Guard Senior Arctic Advisor Shannon Jenkins. “Presence is a U.S. flagged [manned] sovereign vessel,” Jenkins told the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space expo on April 3. “You can’t surge into the Arctic. You have to be up there,” he explained.

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz has said repeatedly that “presence equals influence in the Arctic” to counter a resurgent Russia, and China — which styles itself a “near Arctic nation” — from ignoring the rules-based international order and modern maritime governance as they have done in other regions like the Black and South China seas.

Maritime domain awareness in the Arctic requires more than periodic exercises. It is important to understand how the environment is changing, Jenkins said, “So that we’re better prepared for when industry changes their operations up there, so we can be prepared to be up there and regulate, enforce and protect those operations as well as the U.S. citizens up there,” he said. Full story? Click here.

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Drone Delivery Tests.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is testing out a new unmanned cargo delivery platform that can transport small amounts of cargo between Navy ships, according to SEAPOWER.

(Photo courtesy of Skyways)

And a NAVAIR official at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space expo said he expects the concept to become a program of record soon. Tony Schmidt, director of rapid prototyping, experimentation and demonstration, said a NAVAIR team was able to take the Skyways unmanned aerial vehicle and demonstrate it aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald Ford after just a few months. Schmidt said the Navy is highly interested in going beyond that test.

Schmidt said his team was initially approached by Military Sealift Command, which had discovered that about 80 percent of the parts they were transporting by helicopter weighed less than 10 pounds.

In July, the team took the UAV on a ship-to-ship mission from the destroyer USS Bainbridge  to the USNS Joshua Humphreys, a replenishment (refueling) oiler. In recent weeks, the team has been holding conversations with Navy officials and Schmidt said he is “pretty sure” supply by drone is going to get picked up as a program of record.

Some visitors may remember that the Navy released video last October (2020) showing electronics technicians piloting a quadcopter-style drone to deliver a small payload to the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson.

The test was successful, with the drone dropping its package on the submarine’s hull and returning to operators aboard a nearby surface ship

While short in distance and small in size, the experimental resupply, which took place near the Hawaiian Islands,  demonstrated potential for future resupply without the need for ports or nearby ships, according to Navy Times.

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Another Dangerous Job.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The people who have to clear waterways of naval mines using minesweeper ships or human divers, have long championed unmanned systems as a way to “get the man out of the minefield.” Now the U.S. Navy has wrapped up initial operational test and evaluation of an unmanned surface vessel for countermine operations on Littoral Combat Ships. The Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) platform is expected to be ready for fielding on an LCS by the end of this summer, a Navy official told SEAPOWER.

Captain Godfrey Weekes, program manager for Littoral Combat Ship mission modules, told the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space expo in early August that initial operational capability (IOC) for the platform is planned for the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year — which ends on September 30, 2021.

The UISS platform is designed for the LCS’s mine countermeasures mission package. It “consists of a mine countermeasures unmanned surface vehicle (USV) and a towed minesweeping payload for influence sweeping of magnetic, acoustic and magnetic/acoustic combination mine types,” according to the Navy.

The UISS’s Minehunt USV is currently in contractor verification testing. Low-rate initial production of that platform should begin sometime in late fiscal 2022, Weekes said.

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Navy Version of Global Hawk.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — On it’s first test flight, the systems functioned well on a MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a signals intelligence capability, a Navy official said.

The first MQ-4C equipped with Integrated Functional Capability-Four (IFC-4) made its first flight on July 29, mainly to test the aerodynamic characteristics of the new configuration. The test team, while evaluating aspects — such as stability and control — also checked out the performance of the mission systems and sensors.

“The sensors and systems are performing better than expected,” Captain Dan Mackin, the Navy’s Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems program manager, told the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space expo August 3.

The IFC-4 hardware and software configuration will enable the Triton to become an integral part of the Navy’s Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (MISR&T) transition plan. As such, it will eventually replace the Navy’s EP-3E Orion electronic reconnaissance aircraft beginning in the fall of 2023. The IFC-4 upgrade also includes the Minotaur mission system now used on the EP-3E. See the full story? Click here.

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ELSEWHERE.

Air Force Global Hawk Crash.

An RQ-4 Global Hawk crashed several miles away from Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota on August 6, the Air Force announced. The unmanned aircraft went down in a rural field near Gilby, N.D., and no injuries were reported.T he cause of the crash or the drone’s condition have been identified yet by Air Force authorities.

An RQ-4 Global Hawk soars through the sky to record intelligence, surveillence and reconnaissance data in 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The latest crash marks the third time in the past 18 months that an Air Force drone has gone down, according to Air Force Magazine. Pilots deliberately crashed an MQ-9A Reaper in June 2020 after remotely piloted aircraft suffered a major fuel leak while flying over Africa. Another MQ-9 crashed that same month in Syracuse, New York, when its pilot mixed up the controls.

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NATO Seeks Arctic Underwater Robots.

NATO officials say more investment in autonomous platforms, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data will be critical to understanding how a thawing Arctic Ocean will affect military operations, planning, and infrastructure in the High North.

According to Defense News, scientists from NATO’s Center for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) want to use autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to ensure they have continuous and sustained samples from the Arctic region. Investments in AI will be key to ensuring those systems remain in operation for long periods of time in the changing — but still austere conditions, said Catherine Warner, CMRE’s director.

“We have to improve the autonomy and the artificial intelligence of our systems,” Warner told an August 5 virtual roundtable with reporters. “We have to improve the intelligence, so that if there’s something wrong — just like with the Rover on Mars — if it knows that there’s something wrong with itself, that it can send the error codes back home so that we can try and fix it remotely,” she added.

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Turkish Sea-Going UAVs

Turkish drone-maker Baykar has released details about its newest armed drone, which designed to launch from ships packed with unmanned aircraft, Defense News reports.

“The Bayraktar TB-3, which is still in development, will be a larger and more capable model in the same family as the TB-2,” the company’s chief technology officer, Selcuk Bayraktar, said during an August 4 online presentation sponsored by Gebze Technology University.

Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 drone on the runway in 2014. (Photo by Bayhaluk via wikipedia)

“When we began this project, no fixed-wing UAV could take off from LHD-class, short-runway ships,” he explained, using shorthand for unmanned aerial vehicles and landing helicopter dock naval vessels. “We believe that the TB-3, which can stay in the air for an extended period and is equipped with ammunition, will fill a gap in this field,” Bayraktar said.

The new TB-3 drones are slated to ride aboard Turkey’s future Landing Helicopter Dock Anadolu.

August 19, 2021 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Counter Drone attacks in Iraq; Turkish UGV competition;

DEFENSE.

Drone Shot Down Near U.S. Embassy

An armed drone was shot down above the American embassy in Baghdad on July 5, just hours after a rocket attack on a base housing U.S. soldiers in the west of the country.

According to Agence France Presse reporters, U.S. defense systems fired rockets, taking down a drone laden with explosives.

The system was a counter-rocket, artillery and mortar system, known as C-RAM, said Army Colonel Wayne Marotto, a military spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition. Footage shared online overnight showed the system’s familiar stream of red tracers and exploding rounds arcing over part of Baghdad., the Stars and Stripes website reported.

Soldiers with B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery, from Fort Campbell, Ky., participate in a Counter — Rocket, Artillery and Mortar live-fire exercise, May 26, 2013, at Thompson Hill Range at Fort Sill, Okla. . (Photo: U.S. Army)

The systems can defend against unmanned aerial vehicles, but the cheap drones also can be flown to evade C-RAM fire. This has led to their adoption by Iran-backed militias that mount sporadic harassing attacks, sometimes with deadly effect, in an effort to oust U.S. forces deployed to Iraq to help battle the Islamic State group.

Since the start of the year, 47 attacks have targeted U.S. interests in the country, where 2,500 American troops are deployed as part of an international coalition to fight the jihadist Islamic State group.  Six of those attacks involved armed drones., according to AFP.

In April, a drone packed with explosives struck the coalition’s Iraq headquarters in the military part of the airport in Arbil, the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital. The next month, a drone packed with explosives hit the Ain Al-Asad airbase housing U.S. troops. On June 9, three explosives-laden drones targeted Baghdad airport, where US soldiers are also deployed. One was intercepted by the Iraqi army.

The attacks come as tension is on the rise between U.S. troops and Iran-backed fighters as Baghdad and Washington negotiate a timeline for foreign troop withdrawal from Iraq, according to the Associated Press. (via Stars and Stripes). Recently, the attacks have become more sophisticated, with militants using drones.

Late last month, U.S. warplanes hit facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups which the Pentagon said support drone strikes inside Iraq. Four Iraqi fighters were killed in the June 27 airstrikes, according to the AP.

“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a June 27 statement, reported by Military Times. “The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq.”

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Turkey’s Military UGV Search

Four unmanned ground vehicles are competing to enter service with Turkey’s military under the force’s medium-class UGV project, Defense News reports.

Turkey’s largest defense company, Aselsan, is participating in the competition with its Aslan UGV, while Havelsan is pitching its Barkan; Best Group is offering its Fedai; and Elektroland Defence is proposing its Hancer. All four UGVs are fitted with Aselsan’s SARP remote-controlled weapon system. To see photos of the vehicles and see the full story, click here.

According to a statement released by Turkey’s top defense procurement official, the indigenously produced UGVs have reached the final phase of the competition. The finalists carried out firing tests with their 7.62mm guns, and the contest is scheduled to conclude next month.

“We are determined to show our experience and success in unmanned systems in the air vehicles as well in the naval and land vehicles. Our prototype racing activities, which we started within the framework of our Medium Class 1st Level Unmanned Ground Vehicle Project, carry on.” Demir tweeted June 27.

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More from Turkey

Turkey’s first indigenous unmanned combat surface vessel, the ULAQ, conducted its first live-fire trial during a massive naval exercise in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, that ended June 6.

The ULAQ, Turkey’s first combat unmanned surface vessel. (Courtesy Turkey)

The combat USV’s live-fire trial was not part of the training exercise, Denizkurdu, which involved 132 surface vessels, 10 submarines, 43 winged aircraft, 28 helicopters and 14 drones, Defense News reported.

Developed by Turkish defense companies Ares Shipyard and Meteksan Defence, ULAQ was launched in January and completed sea trials in April. During the live-fire trials, conducted as the last phase of acceptance tests for the Navy, it launched a laser-guided Cirit missile twice.  The first one involved telemetry, and the second used a real warhead hitting its target in the Eastern Mediterranean. The ULAQ was controlled from a mobile coastal control station and illuminated the target with a laser designator before firing.

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ENVIRONMENT

Saildrone is set to conduct an Arctic research mission — for the seventh consecutive year — with its autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs) powered by wind and sun, SEAPOWER magazine reports.

Saildrone’s arctic fleet ready to deploy in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. (Courtesy Saildrone)

The company is conducting the missions with six of its smallest USV, the 23-foot-long Explorer. The six USVs are being launched from Dutch Harbor, a port in the Aleutian Islands. Four of the USVs will collect data in the Bering Sea and two others will collect data in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic Ocean.

The voyages are being conducted to collect atmospheric, oceanographic and bathymetric data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA. The sensors on board the Saildrones will be collecting data on carbon dioxide dissolved in the water; bathymetry; climate and weather — including heat, radiation, carbon and atmospheric variables; wind speed and direction; and radiation and temperatures.

For maritime domain awareness, the Explorers also are fitted with 360-degree cameras that record visual information 24/7 using machine learning algorithms to spot anomalies, such as a passing vessel, imaging every five seconds.

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INDUSTRY

Autonomous Ground Effect Vessels

Flying Ship Technologies Corp. has signed a $100 million sales agreement with a European customer for the purchase of wing-in-ground-effect maritime vessels, according to the SEAPOWER website.

Flying Ship Technologies is developing autonomous ground effect vessels that fly just over the water, which the company says are: Ten times faster than boats, a quarter of the cost to maintain and operate compared to planes; provide tens of thousands of additional coastal access points, and are dramatically cleaner for the environment.

“These vessels will provide fast, low-cost delivery to a wide range of coastal locations around continental Europe and the surrounding islands. Flying Ships will improve the quality of life for consumers by enhancing existing trade routes and opening new routes to deliver fresh foods, medical supplies, and e-commerce, while being carbon-neutral and a fraction of the cost of air freight,” Flying Ship CEO Bill Peterson said in a July 8 statement.

July 8, 2021 at 11:51 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Navy and Marine Corps Unmanned Vision; Mixed Manned, Unmanned Naval Exercise

DEFENSE.

Navy, Marines’ Unmanned Vision.

The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft, one of several unmanned systems Navy leaders say help extend the reach and capabilities of the fleet. (U.S. AIR FORCE photo by Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr).

The top commanders of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps say the increased deployment of unmanned air and maritime systems will help extend the reach and intelligence capabilities of the Fleet and the Force.

It could also sow uncertainty among peer competitors, like China and Russia, according to SEAPOWER magazine.

The Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday told a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing that in the future, the Navy will field the Fleet in a distributed manner. And that, he said, “will allow us to come at — let’s say China or Russia — at many vectors across many domains.” In other words, the increased number of ships — some with a crew and some being controlled remotely or running autonomously — would force adversaries to spread their resources and be on guard everywhere, all the time.

When the Navy and Marine Corps released their Unmanned Campaign Plan in March, some in Congress said it was light on details. At the June 14 Armed Services hearing, Chairman Adam Smith (D-Washington) asked Gilday and Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger to explain how unmanned systems will help them perform their mission.

With unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), Berger said, the the Marines expect help with intelligence collection, logistics and and command and control, in short, he said the ability to move information laterally within Marine units and back to the Joint Force commander.

The Marines are transitioning to a mixed capability of long-range ship and ground-based unmanned aerial systems (UAS) including the MQ-9 Reaper, (see photo above). “This will significantly expand our ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities and will enable us to better support the Fleet and the joint force operational commander, including anti-submarine warfare.”

Gilday noted that the Navy had recently completed its largest unmanned exercise on the West Coast, with unmanned undersea, surface and air systems operating with manned surface ships. The Navy also had the first successful refueling of an F/A-18 Super Hornet from an MQ-25 drone. The Navy also saw the third voyage of more than 4,000-miles — from the Gulf Coast, through the Panama Canal to California — by an unmanned surface vessel operating autonomously 98 percent of the time.

To read the whole story, click here.

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After Action Report.

Speaking of that big West Coast exercise with both manned and unmanned vessels and aircraft, the Navy has concluded its after-action review, according to the Office of Naval Research.

Led by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem 21 (IBP21), was held from April 19-26 in San Diego, California.

During IBP21, numerous multi-domain unmanned platforms — including unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles (UAVs, USVs and UUVs) — were put into real-world, “blue-water” environments, working in sync with manned platforms in actual combat drills designed to support Pacific Fleet objectives in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Large-scale exercises such as IBP21 are critical for the Navy and Marine Corps to make the transition to a hybrid manned-unmanned force in the future,” the Chief of Naval Research, Rear Admiral Lorin Selby said. “These demonstrations ensure what works in theory will work in the fleet—in an environment that is messier, dirtier and wetter than a lab. They also allow us to get valuable feedback from the Sailors and Marines themselves,” he added.

The purpose of IBP21 was to explore a variety of questions about how unmanned systems can be incorporated into fleet operations. For example: How can unmanned and manned systems work together effectively in diverse warfighting scenarios? How can you integrate unmanned systems seamlessly into existing platforms? What is the best way to train Sailors and Marines to use such complex, evolving technologies?

So far, according to SEAPOWER, major takeaways from IBP21 include:

Unmanned systems are resilient, enable better beyond-line-of-sight targeting, and improve battlespace awareness and command and control.

They also provide significant advantages in ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) and Targeting and Fires capabilities, without creating additional risks to the mission or warfighters. The result—more effective offensive and defensive postures.

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INDUSTRY

From General Atomics

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. completed initial flight tests of a new brushless generator system in May on a company-owned Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).

The tests at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizonna, mark an important milestone towards upgrading the GE-ER fleet with generators that will significantly improve reliability and dramatically reduce platform sustainment costs. The new generator also provides electrical power to support expanding mission scenarios for the UAS.

The new generator performed aircraft ground and flight tests for over 44 hours testing up to maximum electrical power output across the full GE-ER flight envelope and at engine power levels from idle up to maximum rated thrust.

The brushless generator is designed as a drop-in replacement for the current alternator to help make the upgrade seamless for maintainers in the field. The brushless design eliminates scheduled depot service for brush replacement every 300 hours on the current alternator, reducing depot, shipping, and spare inventory costs. The new generator system can provide up to 14 kilowatts of power – more than a 50 percent increase over current system – and provide up to 10 kilowatts for sensors and payloads required for flight in a Multi-Domain Operations environment.

***

From Schiebel

Austrian drone manufactuer, Schiebel, says the Finnish Border Guard is once again operating its CAMCOPTER S-100 for icoast guard functions in the Baltic Sea.

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) service is offered by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
Based at a coast guard station in Hanko, Finland, the CAMCOPTER S-100 is carrying out Coast Guard functions, such as
maritime border surveillance, search and rescue, monitoring and surveillance, ship and port security, vessel traffic monitoring, environmental protection and response, ship casualty assistance — as well as accident and disaster response.

Information collected in the Baltic Sea from the on-board RPAS system is shared with multiple Member States, allowing for a common maritime picture and more comprehensive coordination. The operations will continue until end of July.

Two other CAMCOPTER S-100 operations for EMSA are being carried out in Estonia and Romania for maritime surveillance.

June 24, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: AeroVironment Moves East; First In-Flight Drone Refueling of Fighter Jet

Leaving California.

California-based drone and robotic system-maker AeroVironment, is moving its base — East to Arlington, Virginia.

Aerovironment, which manufactures the Puma, Raven and Wasp small, hand-launched  unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) for the U.S. and other militaries, announced the move June 15. AeroVironment also makes the loitering munition, Switchblade, also known as a kamikaze drone.

A Marine launches a Puma UAV by hand in Afghanistan. (Photo by Sergeant Bobby J. Yarbrough)

“The greater Washington D.C. area is where many of our key customers are located and expanding our presence in the region will further our access to decision makers, influencers and talent,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment’s president and CEO.

“Our recent acquisition of Progeny Systems ISG and our new Artificial Intelligence Innovation Center expand our footprint near the Beltway and build on our momentum as we continue to grow our portfolio and global scope. We look forward to growing our Washington, D.C., presence and continuing to serve our customers with solutions that help them proceed with certainty.”

*** *** ***

Making History.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) made aviation history on June 4 with a successful air-to-air refueling of another aircraft. Boeing’s MQ-25 Demonstrator, T1, refueled a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter, a major step in the MQ-25A Stingray’s journey to become the Navy’s carrier-based aerial refueler, according to Seapower magazine.

The MQ-25 T1 test asset refuels the Navy F/A-18 during a flight June 4 at MidAmerica Airport in Illinois. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

Boeing’s T1 and the F/A-18F  were flown by a crew from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23. The two aircraft joined up and the MQ-25 passed a total of 325 gallons of fuel to the Super Hornet in two separate refueling events.

The MQ-25 carried a Cobham-built refueling store with a drogue refueling hose, the same type currently used in the fleet by Super Hornets. The Navy plans to use the MQ-25 in the refueling role to free more Super Hornets for the combat operations they were designed to perform.

*** *** ***

Testing Gremlins

The Defense Department, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and industry partners will hold the next demonstration of the drone swarming concept this fall, Military.com reports.

At an event hosted by Defense News, the deputy commander of Air Mobility Command, Lieutenant General Brian Robinson said revealed the next test for the program, known as Gremlins, will occur in the October to November timeframe.

In concert with Dynetics, a subsidiary of Leidos, Kratos Defense and DARPA, have been working on the project, in which controlled drones are dropped out of cargo planes — such as the C-130 Hercules — to swarm enemy defenses ahead of fighters, ships or ground vehicles.

For more on this topic, click here.

*** *** ***

Skyborg AI Test

Earlier this Spring, the U.S. Air Force flew an artificial intelligence (AI) system onboard a subsonic autonomous drone for the first time.

The Skyborg autonomy core system, or ACS, was loaded into a Kratos UTAP-22 “Mako” drone for a 130-minute flight test at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, on April 29, the Air Force announced. The Skyborg ACS conducted a basic flight and “responded to navigational commands while reacting to geo-fences, adhering to aircraft flight envelopes and demonstrating coordinated maneuvering,” the May 5 news release stated.

Skyborg is one of three initiatives under the service’s Vanguard Program for rapid prototyping and development of new technologies it can leverage for multiple operations, according to the Military.com website. The goal is for drones loaded with the Skyborg network to fly alongside manned fighters, so the machine can learn how to maneuver and even train with the pilot.

Follow-on test events will include manned-unmanned teaming with the Skyborg ACS-controlled system, according to the Air Force. To read more, click here.

June 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Robots, Droids & Drones: Navy “Bullish” on Aerial Refueler Drone; Air Force Testing Ways to Use MQ-9 Drone.

DEFENSE.

CNO Bullish on Drones.

Unmanned systems — in the air and both on, and under the sea — will help maximize the U.S. Navy’s range across the Pacific Ocean in the future, according to the Navy’s top commander.

The MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling vehicle, along with other unmanned aircraft, surface and under-sea vessels, will help maximize the U.S. Navy’s future range across the Pacific Ocean, according to Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations. The Navy plans to procure 72 Stingrays from Boeing. (Photo of Boeing)

Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, says the Navy’s “very bullish” about the MQ-25A Stingray, a carrier-based, aerial refueling drone. Once it’s integrated into carrier operations, Gilday told a think tank webinar April 27, the Boeing-built Stingray will extend aircraft carrier reach. In addition to being an unmanned fuel tanker,the Stingray can also provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance around the carrier strike group.

Gilday said he sees unmanned systems as a path to affordability and lethality in future defense budgets, which will likely be leaner in coming years. “Probably by the  mid-to-late 2030s, we think up to a third of the fleet could be unmanned, if everything goes right,” Gilday explained. “And for the air wing of the future, we think about the same, initially about 40 percent — potentially going to 60 percent — unmanned,” he added.

The Navy’s strategy in the Great Power competition with China calls for fielding highly mobile and distributed maritime operations across the Pacific. But during the question and answer session at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Gilday noted that with  ubiquitous satellite imagery, “it’s going to be difficult to hide” in the future. And that’s why unmanned vessels armed with directed energy weapons like high-energy lasers could become “really important” in force protection, Gilday said.

To see your 4GWAR editor’s story on this topic on the Seapower magazine website, click here.

*** *** ***

Naval Exercise (UxS IBP)

A number of unmanned systems were put to the test in the air and on and below the waters off the coast of California April 19-26 during Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP).

The Pacific Fleet exercise was designed to integrate manned and unmanned capabilities into operational scenarios to generate advantages in conflict. The week-long event involved surface, subsurface, and aerial unmanned assets, operating with littoral combat ships, guided-missile destroyers, guided-missile cruisers, submarines and helicopter squadrons.

It was the first large-scale unmanned systems (UxS) integrated battle problem (IBP) involving manned/unmanned teaming. One goal was  to develop a targeting solution for a planned missile shoot, which was accomplished. Participants successfully teamed air and surface, manned and unmanned capability, to put an SM-6 missile well over the horizon from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn to target, according to Seapower.

The manned/unmanned chain of events for the missile shoot was totally passive, [without] any active sensor. The target was detected by a combination of manned and unmanned platforms and a space system to locate and identify the target, track it with electronic support measures (ESM) bearings, and pass the information to the John Finn, which was able to shoot the SM-6 at range, well beyond line of sight.

Unmanned systems participating in the IBP included two medium-displacement unmanned surface vessels, Sea Hunter and its new sister ship, Seahawk; an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV); an MQ-9 Sea Guardian UAV; a Vanilla ultra-long-endurance UAV; the Office of Naval Research’s Super Swarm Project; and the Ocean Aero Triton-Class Dual-Modality Underwater and Surface Autonomous Vehicle.

In  the photo below, sailors attached to Unmanned Undersea Vehicles Squadron 1 monitor the launch and operation of an unmanned undersea vehicle at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport’s UUV Operations Center in Washington state as part of Battle Problem 21 on April 21. To see more photos of this part of UxS IBP, click here.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Foley)

Unmanned surface and air systems were used to prosecute a submarine-like target. This event included an MQ-9 SeaGuardian UAV dropping sonobuoys and up-linking data after a P-8 maritime patrol aircraft departed station.

According to MQ-9-manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the event demonstrated a number of actions for the first time including: successful Link connectivity with U.S. Navy surface ships and aircraft; cooperative anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations, with the first successful high-altitude sonobuoy drop from an unmanned aircraft; Automatic Identification System (AIS) correlation with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and a MH-60R Seahawk helicopte;r and long-range over-the-horizon targeting from drone to a U.S. Navy Destroyer.

In the photo below, an MQ-9 Sea Guardian unmanned maritime surveillance aircraft system flies over the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) during U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21, April 21.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe)

*** *** ***

Marines Dropping their Blackjacks.

According to the Drive, the Marine Corps has announced it was retiring all of its RQ-21 Blackjack drones and is shifting attention to other unmanned platforms, including the MQ-9 Reaper and the V-Bat. (see related story below).

The Marines announced earlier this week that they had “initiated the divestment of all RQ-21 aircraft” in the first annual update on the Corps’ progress with the Force Design 2030 effort, publicly unveiled last year. The restructuring plan scaled back infantry and artillery units and eliminated tank battalions, in favor of a lighter, more nimble force with a renewed emphasis on expeditionary and distributed operations.

The Blackjack, built by Boeing’s Insitu, is a twin-boom, single-engine, small tactical unmanned aerial vehicle that carries modular payloads mostly for surveillance. It is pneumatically launched and is recovered using a skyhook arrestment system. A single Blackjack system includes five UAVs, two ground control stations, various payloads and a set of launch and recovery systems.

The fielding of the RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial system achieved full operational capability in 2019. All 21 systems for the Marine Corps and 10 for the Navy had been delivered to fleet and training units, by Fall 2020, according to Seapower.

*** *** ***

Navy Picks Martin UAV V-BAT

The Navy has selected Martin UAV’s V-BAT for a vertical take-off and landing unmanned aircraft system (UAS) prototyping and development effort to fulfill new technological requirements, the Plano, Texas company announced April 28.

V-Bat stationary (Courtesy Martin UAV)

Those requirements were driven by the changing nature of threats in austere operating environments.

Martin UAV was one of thirteen respondents to the Navy’s Mi2 Challenge and was later down selected with L3Harris Technologies to compete in a technology demonstration at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona. The competition sought maximum portability, self-sufficiency and modularity in UAS hardware and payload capabilities without the need for ancillary support equipment.

The BAT system offers vertical takeoff with a single-engine ducted fan, automatic transition to straight and level flight, easily commanded hovers and stares, interchangeable payloads, and an open architecture.

According to the company. the V-BAT is currently deployed in various areas in support of Defense Department activities including the U.S. Army’s Future Tactical UAS program as well as with a Marine Corps expeditionary unit, and with the U.S. Coast Guard.

*** *** ***

Air Force testing  MQ-9 Drone for New Mission.

The Air Force is testing ways to use the MQ-9 UAS in island-hopping missions, military.com reports.

Long used for the counter terrorism mission, the Air Force’s principal hunter-killer drone is finishing up a joint exercise (Agile Reaper) with the Navy and Marine Corps at Naval Air Station Point Mugu and San Clemente Island in California. The aim was to prepare crews to use fewer personnel and less equipment at forward-deployed locations as the MQ-9 takes on more maritime missions, officials said, according to the website.

Like the Marines, who are shifting from counter-terrorism, counter insurgency operations to prepare for possible conflict with China in the Indo-Pacific region, the Air Force drone operators practiced enhanced maritime surveillance missions and moved toward close-air support strike, to back up Marines going ashore.

Read more here.

April 29, 2021 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

Robots, Droids & Drones: Fighter Jets and AI Wingmen; Expanding Drone Warfare in Africa; SeaGuardian Maritime Tests

Artificial Intelligence in the Cockpit.

Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) doesn’t mean AI will be replacing fighter jet pilots anytime soon, say Pentagon officials.

“I don’t see human fighter pilots being phased out. I see their effectiveness being enhanced by cooperation with artificial intelligence systems,” says Dr. Mark J. Lewis — the Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Seapower magazine reports.

An AI algorithm developed by Heron Systems defeated an experienced F-16 fighter pilot in all five rounds of virtual air combat on August 20 at the Alpha Dogfight Trials. It was the culmination of a year-long competition — originally involving eight teams — in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Air Combat Evolution program (ACE). The ACE program seeks to increase humans’ trust in combat autonomy through human-machine collaborative dogfighting.

Heron Systems’ artificial intelligence algorithm defeated an experienced F-16 fighter pilot in five straight virtual dogfights.

“The key takeaway was the artificial intelligence system did so well because it wasn’t so concerned about self-preservation.  It was willing to do things that a human pilot wouldn’t do and that’s the advantage of artificial intelligence,” Lewis told a virtual conference on technology and strategy in the era of Great Power competition presented by Defense News.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper was so impressed by the Alpha Dogfight results that he announced at the Pentagon’s AI Symposium on September 9th that the ACE program will proceed to testing AI against humans flying actual fighter aircraft in 2024.

However, Esper was quick to assure a world increasingly nervous about armed automatons, Breaking Defense noted. “To be clear, AI’s role in our lethality is to support human decision-makers, not replace them,” Esper said, adding, “We see AI as a tool to free up resources, time, and manpower so our people can focus on higher priority tasks, and arrive at the decision point, whether in a lab or on the battlefield, faster and more precise than the competition.”

*** *** ***

Drones in Hot Pursuit.

U.S. Africa Command wants the authority to carry out armed drone strikes targeting al Qaeda-linked al Shabab fighters in portions of eastern Kenya, the New York Times reported September 15. American officials say that could expand the war zone across the border from Shabab’s sanctuaries in Somalia.

The push for the expanded authority traces back to a January  2020 Shabab attack on a military base in Kenya that housed U.S. troops. The attack on the airfield at Manda Bay killed three Americans and caused millions of dollars in damage. Since 2010, al-Shabab has killed hundreds of innocent people outside the borders of Somalia.

The eastern border of Kenya with Somalia on the Horn of Africa.

The attack caught American and Kenyan forces by surprise, but Marine Raiders — the Special Operations unit of the Marine Corps — were in a base about a mile away and led the counter attack,  Marine Corps Times reported at the time. About a dozen Marines from 3rd Marine Raider Battalion, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, led Kenyan commandos against the Islamic militants in an intense firefight with the Shabab militants, ultimately pushing the Islamic fighters out of the military base. However, the attackers eluded pursuers and fled back to Somalian territory.

As they confronted the fallout from the debacle, officials recognized that they lacked guidelines to conduct drone strikes in Kenya should Shabab attack there again, the Times noted.

*** *** ***

SeaGuardian Shows Maritime Capabilities

An MQ-9B SeaGuardian. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA‑ASI) has concluded a set of maritime test flights over the sea-lanes off the coast of Southern California, using the MQ-9B SeaGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), the company announced September 14.

It was the first MQ-9B to be configured for surveillance operations over open-water and the flights demonstrated MQ-9B capabilities in the maritime environment, Seapower magazine noted.

SeaGuardian is an MQ-9B SkyGuardian configured for maritime ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) mission. The SkyGuardian, itself, is a variant of General Atomics’ venerable Predator B large surveillance and attack drone.

The Southern California test flight demonstrated how SeaGuardian can be used for a variety of maritime missions, including surface search, subsurface search, littoral surveillance, anti-piracy and search and rescue.

September 17, 2020 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February, 15, 2019)

That’s No Snowball.

MRF-E 19.1: Exercise Snow Panzer
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Nghia Tran)

A Marine launches an RQ-20B Puma unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Setermoen, Norway, on February 11, 2019, during Exercise Snow Panzer with Norwegian troops.

Snow Panzer is a force-on-force exercise between Marine Rotational Force-Europe and the Norwegian Panzer Battalion of Brigade Nord.

The Marines have been doing a lot of cold weather training in recent months in NorwaySweden and Iceland.

February 15, 2019 at 2:07 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 22, 2016)

Last Run.

Here we go Kiowa Warriors

Defense Dept. photo by Kenneth Kassens.

Thirty-two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters with the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade  — the last U.S.-based Kiowa squadron–  conduct a flyover during a farewell flight above Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Under the Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI)  — a cost-saving program to fund future development and acquisition of helicopters — the Army is divesting its OH-58 Kiowa Scout helicopters. The Army is replacing them with active duty AH-64 Apache attack helos and pairing them with unmanned aircraft.

The 1st Squadron will deploy to Korea this summer. When it returns, it will be switching over to Apaches.

The April 15 flyover served as a final “thank you” and farewell to the residents of the Fort Bragg and the Fayetteville, N. C. community. To learn more about the flyover, the Kiowa Warriors and the people who flew them, click here to read an article co-authored by our friend and colleague, Drew Brooks of the Fayetteville Observer, (via Stars and Stripes).

April 21, 2016 at 11:45 pm Leave a comment

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