sUAS News

Stories from the world of unmanned aviation.
Australia moves to buy $3b spy drone fleet

The Defence Force is quietly resurrecting plans to buy seven huge maritime surveillance spy drones at a cost of up to $3 billion.

The unmanned aerial vehicles will be used for maritime surveillance and intercepting asylum seeker boats.

The decision comes despite claims that the Royal Australian Air Force’s top commanders have long opposed the acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles because they will put pilots out of a job and threaten RAAF culture

The $200 million Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk reconnaissance drone is the largest, most expensive unmanned aerial vehicle in the world today.

Its vast wingspan of 39.8 metres can lift the craft to 65,000 feet and stay airborne for 35 hours with a non-stop range of 16,000 kilometres – eclipsing the endurance of similar manned aircraft.

In 2004, the Howard government was so impressed with Global Hawk that plans were announced to buy a fleet of 12 of the spy drones for $1 billion.

But in 2009 the acquisition was cancelled by Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon, who was defence minister at the time.

In May 2010, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced a Coalition government would buy three Global Hawks.

Despite this erratic political flight path, the idea of Australian Global Hawks remained in bureaucratic mothballs until July this year, when the latest Defence Capability Plan was quietly released.

Buried in the document were plans to bring forward by three years the acquisition of “high altitude, long endurance” unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The RAAF now wants seven large UAVs flying by 2019.

The favoured option is a new, maritime surveillance version of the Global Hawk - the MQ4C Triton.

The estimated cost of the project is between $2 billion and $3 billion.

Triton had a shaky take-off in June 2012, when a demonstration version of the maritime drone crashed just three days before the official unveiling ceremony at Northrop Grumman’s Californian factory.

A company spokesman insists the demonstrator that went down was an old, worn-out Global Hawk, bearing little resemblance to the new, improved Triton.

When it takes to the skies for the first time later this year, Triton will appear to be a slightly larger version of its cousin, Global Hawk.

However, leading American intelligence analyst and author Matthew Aid says they are two very different drones.

"Global Hawk was designed for pin-point imagery or eavesdropping on land targets, by over flight, or by flying obliquely up to 450 kilometres off an enemy’s coastline," he said.

"Triton was designed for broad area maritime surveillance – following ships from high altitude."

The US Navy expects to start flying the first of 68 Tritons on order by 2015.

Some will be based on the US territory of Guam to cover the Asia-Pacific region, while another detachment will fly out of Diego Garcia to monitor the Indian Ocean.

In March, the Washington Post reported that the US is also considering basing Global Hawk/Triton on Australia’s Cocos Islands.

The US Navy claims a single Triton 24-hour surveillance mission can cover nearly 7 million square kilometres of ocean – identifying every vessel in one vast sweep of the ocean.

But Mr Aid remains unimpressed.

"Triton does not have anywhere near the range or payload capability of the Global Hawk, and from what I can gather its imaging sensors are nowhere near as good," he said.

Worth questioned

The Royal Australian Air Force now wants Triton to support a new generation of manned maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8A, which looks like a converted 737 airliner.

Together, these two systems will replace the RAAF’s aging fleet of P3 Orions that have spent decades patrolling the vast expanse of ocean surrounding Australia - about 20 per cent of the world’s sea surface.

Capable of being armed with both missiles and torpedos, the 8 P8 Poseidons already on order will also be capable of anti-submarine warfare.

But is Global Hawk/Triton worth the hefty price tag of at least $200 million each?

Andrew Davies of the Canberra-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute is not so sure.

"That’s still a question to be answered. It can fly high and fast, but is really expensive. Each UAV plus ground support systems costs about $200 million each - you can buy a P8 for that," he said.

"So they’re not cheap. The question is can you do the job with a cheaper UAV?

"The Mariner is the maritime version of the Reaper (flown in Afghanistan and Pakistan). It flies slower and lower which can be a good thing as it can drop down and take a closer look at asylum boats for instance, with decks covered by tarps.

"The Mariner is much cheaper, priced in the tens of millions."

In 2006 the Mariner was put through its paces in a trial off Australia’s North West Shelf.

Mariner supporters say it offers 80 per cent of the capability of a Triton for one-tenth of the cost.

That is a powerful argument in Canberra these days, where the Defence budget has just been slashed by $5.5 billion.

Unlike the high flying unarmed Triton, the Mariner is also designed to carry missiles.

Mr Davies says low cost and an armed capability will be a big plus when flying into regional uncertainty.

"It’s about the Indian Ocean and securing our sea lanes," he said.

"In the Indian Ocean we see growing competition between the navies of China, India and the US. US attention is now pivoting towards this part of the world."

Other experts argue there is a far more urgent, humanitarian task to perform – border protection.

As Australia’s refugee boat crisis escalates and with the Navy reportedly stretched to breaking point intercepting asylum seekers, drones could provide a timely solution in saving more lives.

Kym Bergmann, the editor of Asia Pacific Defence Reporter and a former defence industry executive who worked on UAV projects, says Global Hawk should have been in Australian service years ago.

He claims this did not happen because RAAF pilots feared UAVs would threaten their jobs and traditions.

"Early in 2008 the new Labor [Defence] Minister [Joel Fitzgibbon] had some sort of brain snap and made a very dramatic announcement to the effect that the acquisition of Global Hawk was going to be deferred for a decade," he said.

"At the time as a relatively inexperienced minister, he was stampeded by some of the advice that was coming from the Air Force in particular.

"It was because [the RAAF] really preferred the idea of having a manned aircraft.

"It’s because a manned aircraft is flown by guys with moustaches and flying allowances, rather than being operated by hyper intelligent nerds sitting in front of computer terminals, which is essentially how you operate a Global Hawk."

Mr Bergmann claims the RAAF senior commanders dropped their opposition to Global Hawk/Triton only after they were promised the P8 planes that still need pilots to fly them.

"It’s been quite a dramatic conversion. They’ve now become enthusiasts for the technology, when in fact for the previous decade they’d done everything that they could to resist it," he said.

He says Australia urgently needs a maritime UAV capability and that Global Hawk/Triton is the drone for the job.

"It’s highly likely that we’re going to see more asylum seekers coming to Australia, there’s going to be the possibility of increased transnational crime, there’s going to be the possibility of increased illegal activities," he said.

"The high-resolution cameras and synthetic aperture radars mean that from an altitude of 60,000 feet at a distance of several hundred kilometres, you can use both your radar and your camera to give you crystal clear imagery right down to very, very small boats.

"You can really get down to rowing boat sizes. The quality of the imagery is quite phenomenal."

A growing number of younger RAAF officers now enthusiastically endorse a rapid expansion of the drone fleet.

Since 2009 the Air Force has been flying leased, Israeli-owned Heron surveillance drones in support of Australian troops in Afghanistan.

Displaying the zeal of a convert, Wing Commander Jonathan McMullan, an RAAF pilot-turned-drone commander, recently returned from Afghanistan, declared: “The capability? It’s like crack cocaine, a drug for our guys involved.”

Rise of civilian drones

Tonight on ABC1, Foreign Correspondent sounds the alarm on the swarms of private and government drones gathering in American skies and surely bound for the rest of the world.

Some of the drones have live streaming cameras and the ability to carry other payloads, and tens of thousands of them are expected to take to the sky.

But who’s at the controls? Potentially anybody.

— 2 years ago with 4 notes
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
Aerial reconnaissance Marines complete deployment, fly final flight over Afghanistan

by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan, – As Marines patrol through a village, an ambush can come from any alley or home, but thanks to aerial reconnaissance the Marines at the front can eliminate the threat before insurgents successfully carry out their plans.

One of the squadrons responsible for these flights, Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), flew their last RQ-7B Shadow surveillance flight over Helmand province on Aug. 26.

“We are the eyes in the sky,” said Cpl. Joshua P. Garcia, an unmanned aerial vehicle operator with VMU-2. “We work hand-in-hand with intelligence units, and anything significant we see we send up.”

The information the squadron provides can mean life or death for the guys on the ground. They can see suspicious activity and relay that information, which is vital in a counterinsurgency operation.

“It’s important what we do,” said Cpl. Paul A. Tepper, a radio operator with VMU-2. “We show convoys what’s ahead, and we tell guys on patrol what’s around the corner. If I was on the ground, I’d want (a UAV) overhead, so I’d know what to expect.”

Marines who work with the UAVs know their efforts pay huge dividends.

“(Working with UAVs) is awesome,” said Sgt. Tyler J. Wagers, an imagery analyst with VMU-2. “It’s something you see having an immediate impact. We influence decisions on the ground with the (intelligence) we provide them.”

Every Marine in the squadron is proud of one another and their accomplishments.

“The Marines have done an outstanding job this deployment,” said Lt. Col. Mikael K. Huber, commanding officer, VMU-2. “It has been different because of the change in pace of operations, and the Marines and sailors have been up to the challenge.”

The squadron was also responsible for maintenance of the aircraft, but they never delayed and were able to complete all their missions unless something unforeseen happened, said Huber, 41, from Annapolis, Md.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the Marines who I’ve worked with,” said Wagers, 29, from Corbin, Ky. “They did a better job than what I expected, but they can multitask and get the job done.”

The Marines know their impact was valuable, and they are glad they helped out their fellow Marines on the ground.

“It’s a really good feeling,” said Garcia, 22, from Bronx, N.Y. “I talked to a few grunts, and they said our birds helped save their lives. It’s just a really good feeling knowing you helped save lives.”

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
Hinds gets drone program off ground

The Clarion-Ledger

RAYMOND, Miss. — When news hit earlier this month that an American drone had killed at least 10 al-Qaida militants, instructors some 8,000 miles away at Hinds Community College were working on Mississippi’s first program to train drone pilots.

Currently the market on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, also known as drones, is almost completely military. In February, President Barack Obama signed a bill giving the Federal Aviation Administration three years to “integrate” UAVs into the national air space along with piloted aircraft.

Seeing that opening, HCC’s leaders thought it was time to start training the people who will pilot those crafts.

"In the next two to five years this industry will explode," said instructor/ consultant Dennis Lott. "There are so many opportunities that will be available, there will be more positions than pilots and technicians to fill them."

Hinds already has a traditional aviation course that trains pilots. The UAV program will allow students to take four courses that will train them to fly the unmanned aircraft.

The people who go into those military positions tend to have hand-eye coordination and technical knowledge that comes from personal experience with radio-controlled aircraft or video games.

The idea for the class at Hinds was born a few years ago when the college’s aviation chairman, Randy Pearcy, was discussing an ROTC program with New York surgeon Dr. Butch Rosser.

Rosser is a big fan of video game education for children, Pearcy said, because he got his own hand-eye coordination, particularly in surgeries performed while looking at a monitor, from playing video games.

The two collaborated on some efforts to expose kids to the fields of aviation and medicine in ways they could understand.

Students of all ages already are inquiring into the program, Pearcy said.

"We’ve had people just out of high school, but also a lot of nontraditional type students and people who have always had an interest in remote control aircraft," he said. "Right now we probably have more nontraditional students than freshmen right out of high school."

Sean Meacham, 19, is an aviation student at HCC, as well as a crew chief for the Air Guard. Looking toward a career in the Air Force, he is taking the traditional pilot classes at HCC as well as the UAV classes this coming semester. He said he was interested in radio-controlled planes before he came to college, and still works with the five he has at home.

"I’m looking at this to be a backup," he said. "So if something ever happens and I can no longer fly commercially or for the military, I have the knowledge I need to fly UAVs for a contractor. There’s no telling what all will be available in the future."

While building the curriculum, Pearcy said he talked to employers at Aurora Flight Sciences and Stark Aerospace in Starkville.

Hinds’ program allows students to go at the industry from several angles. They can do as Meacham is and take both traditional and UAV pilot training or focus solely on the UAV work.

The program also will teach them to repair and upgrade the aircraft.

The program has several kinds of simulators, including one that simulates a remote control airplane.

"We get their skills built up here, then we’ll take them out and let them fly some of the smaller radio-controlled aircraft inside the hangar," Pearcy said. "We’ll probably damage a lot of aircraft, but we’ll learn to repair them, and we’ll work our way up to larger and larger aircraft."

At this point, it’s not really clear what kind of certifications UAV pilots will need, since there really isn’t a standardized certification now.

"We don’t really know what the domestic market will look like. The FAA is working that out," Lott said. "There may be and probably will be initially some actual pilot certifications that are required for UAV operators."

That’s one thing that gives HCC an advantage, he said.

"We’re already in that market," he said. "We’re training pilots now. After two years here, we’ll have a well-rounded individual that can fly, or if they’re not interested in flying, they’ll know the technical side of it. They’ll know the basics of maintenance and repair, and we’ll also provide them with the pilot training necessary for whatever level the FAA decides they want them to have."

And once they’ve finished at Hinds, students can use what they’ve learned to go straight into the work force or use it to go into either Delta State’s commercial aviation department or engineering studies at Mississippi State if they want to keep their studies in state.

Hinds has spent $16 million, primarily in FAA grants, over the last few years on its aviation infrastructure because there’s a bigger plan, said J.B. Williams Airport Director Michelle Jackson. The airport also is surrounded by 640 acres for expansion or development by aviation industry partners.

"We’d like to attract aviation industries, and we would hope UAV might be the one type of anchor tenant that would come in," she said.

The state has hopes of building on the UAV industry made up of industries such as Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, which builds the Global Hawk and Fire Scout.

They are designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.

Gov. Phil Bryant recently traveled to the Farnborough International Air Show in England, said spokesman Mick Bullock.

"Mississippi has long been a leader in aerospace technology and skilled manufacturing, including 26 aerospace-related businesses in the state," he said. "Gov. Bryant looks forward to pursuing opportunities for our state that will emerge as the result of such a significant manufacturing investment in the region."

In addition, Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory is nationally known for its work with UAVs, and held a seminar earlier this year featuring speakers such as Air Force Maj. Gen. James O. Poss, assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

"We have a lot of activity in this lab in UAV and UAS," said Raspet Director Ratneshwar Jha.

Raspet leads the area’s research centers for the industry and is flanked by Aurora and Stark, which are also involved in assembly and manufacture of UAV models.
— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
GA-ASI Cited as Top Employer for Technological Challenge

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, today announced that the company has been ranked as one of the top employers for “Technological Challenge” in Aviation Week’s 2012 Workforce Study.

“At a time when most companies are feeling the effects of today’s budget-constrained environment, we have been fortunate to continue to attract and retain highly talented, inspired workers,” said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. “The impressive innovations of our nearly 6,000 employees are fueling an expansion in capabilities of our aircraft, sensors, and related systems for customers both here and abroad.”

GA-ASI tied with another industry leader for third-place in the category of Technological Challenge, which assesses a company’s ability to challenge its employees with technological innovation and to provide an environment that supports technological accomplishment. Factors evaluated include technology degrees held by leadership, organic R&D investment, patents awarded, investment in technology/design tools, innovation process, workforce involvement in R&D and engineering/technology, and revenue generated from products developed in the past five years.

“Once again, GA-ASI has proven its leadership in providing a technologically challenging and rewarding environment for employees,” said Carole Rickard Hedden, project leader of Aviation Week’s 2012 Workforce Survey. “The organization ranks among the industry’s leaders in terms of providing an environment where innovators are supported and have the ability to contribute in a meaningful way–the hallmarks of companies that will continue to succeed in this challenging environment.”

The annual study, which represents 80 percent of U.S. Aerospace and Defense (A&D) workers, takes an industry-wide look at the current state-of-the-A&D workforce, with responses to specific questions resulting in an assessment of how companies are meeting employees’ basic requirements in several key categories. Over the past nine years, GA-ASI had been ranked as a top employer in multiple survey categories, including Valuing the Individual (2nd place, 2011; 3rd place, 2010; 2nd place, 2006; 3rd place, 2005), Technological Challenge (3rd place, 2010; 7th place, 2009; 4th place, 2006; 6th place, 2005; 3rd place, 2004), and Diversity (2nd place, 2005).

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
A Glimpse Into the IAF’s Unmanned Squadron

UAV operators recently completed training, and we join Second Lt. R on his first test flight with the Heron aircraft

After finishing the Israeli Air Force (IAF) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operators’ course, the graduates are stationed at the various formations. Before becoming operational operators, they will control intelligence excursions and join missions of infantry units. We joined one of the graduating UAV operators, Second Lieutenant R, on his test flight with the ‘Heron’ aircraft.

Even though he completed the course just ten days ago, Lt. R has already exhibited his capabilities in the field. In the control car, he flawlessly goes through all the instructions and essential checks before taking off. On the computer screen in front of him, all types of Israeli maps are shown, each sketching out ground routes, sites of different incidents, weather conditions and a map of Israeli cities and communities.

After a successful takeoff, Lt. R controls the flight with a joystick—just like working a video game console, only that this is no game. Through the camera placed on the back of the UAV, you can follow the Heron aircraft’s every movement and activity and at the same time identify it on the computer screens. The importance of the UAV formations’ operation is becoming increasingly clear.

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
118th Airlift Wing looking for Guardsmen to join new unmanned aircraft, cyber security mission

KRISTIN M. HALL  Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Air National Guard’s 118th Airlift Wing based in Nashville has flown all types of aircraft in its long history — from fighter planes to transport and cargo planes. But their new mission signals a larger shift in the Air Force to unmanned aircraft and cyber security.

Under a restructuring plan, the Air Force announced earlier this year the unit’s C-130 transport planes would be replaced with MQ-9 Remote Piloted Aircraft, also known as the Reaper drone. The plan also calls for the 118th Wing to get a cyber-security unit and expand their intelligence squadron.

The changes coming to the unit based at the Nashville International Airport reflect post 9/11 shifts in the Air Force to place an emphasis on using the latest technology for gathering intelligence and surveillance.

The unit employs about 1,200 personnel. About a third are full-time National Guard members and the remainder are traditional, part-time Guard positions, according to Col. Chuck Echols, base commander for the 118th Airlift Wing.—118th-Airlift-Wing-New-Mission

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
sUAS on BBC Newsnight: The skies open up for large civilian drones

Look out for a Dorset boy ;-)

By Jim ReedBBC Newsnight

Unmanned aircraft, known as drones, are the eyes and ears of the US military, providing troops with an “eye in the sky” in situations where manned flight is considered too dangerous or difficult.

A decade ago less than five per cent of US military aircraft were unmanned, now 40 per cent have no pilot on board - from small surveillance craft light enough to be launched by hand, to medium-sized armed drones and large spy planes.

But the role of the drone is now changing. Millions of pounds are being sunk into civilian projects - everything from border security to police surveillance and even transporting goods.

This year the US Congress passed legislation giving US airspace regulator the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) until September 2015 to open up its airspace to drones, and Britain is expected to follow suit.

The UK’s airspace regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has told BBC Newsnight that large unmanned drones could be flying in British skies by the end of the decade.

The CAA has already handed out 120 permits to fly small, lightweight drones. By 2020 this may be extended to larger unmanned aircraft.

"In aviation terms you can probably equate where we are with unmanned technology now to manned flight in 1918 or the early 1920s," Gerry Corbett at the CAA said.

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
SAIC Awarded Contract by United States Air Force Special Operations Command

MCLEAN, Va. | Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announced today it was awarded a prime contract by the United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) to provide Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Ground Control Station (GCS) and Combined Operations Center (Combined Ops Ctr) support. The single-award cost-plus fixed-fee (CPFF) contract has a one-year base period of performance, four one-year options, and a total contract value of $35 million. Work will be performed primarily at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, N.M., Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev., and Hurlburt Field- Ft. in Walton Beach, Fla.

AFSOC provides Air Force special operations forces for worldwide deployment and assignment to regional unified commands. AFSOC’s core tasks include forward presence and engagement, information operations precision employment and strike, and special operations forces mobility.

Under the contract, SAIC will provide support and maintenance of current and future RPA GCS and Combined Ops Ctr, including security and logistics support and air combat control. Teammates include Battlespace Flight Services, LLC; Summit Technology, and Woodbury Technologies.

"We look forward to continuing to provide the United States Air Force Special Operations Command with Remotely Piloted Aircraft Ground Control Station and Combined Operations Center support to sustain its vital mission on the war on terrorism," said John Fratamico, SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager.

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
Low cost spy plane takes off as military budgets squeezed

Looks like Northrop Grumman are hedging their bets when it comes to UA integration into the NAS.

(Reuters) - Northrop Grumman Corp, maker of the B-2 spy plane and the Global Hawk unmanned drone, will demonstrate a smaller, cheaper surveillance plane this week it hopes will be attractive to budget conscious U.S. law agencies and foreign countries.

The new Air Claw system marks Northrop’s latest effort to expand its overseas revenues and move into new non-military markets at home given the expected decline in U.S. military spending after a decade of sharp growth.

The new aircraft adds high-tech sensors to the rugged, single-engine Quest Kodiak aircraft, including a wide-area surveillance camera that captures images over an area that measures 4 miles by 4 miles and has already been used to help make arrests on the southern U.S. border.

"Air Claw will cost millions less than other aircraft that are out there," Tom Kubit, a senior executive with Northrop Grumman’s technical services sector, told reporters at a small private airport outside Baltimore.

He said Northrop has built over a dozen special mission planes for the U.S. government over the past 21 years, but developed the new plane as a low-cost alternative given the mounting budget pressures facing the U.S. government and an estimated 48 countries that use such aircraft.

Northrop will demonstrate the Air Claw to U.S. law enforcement agencies this week.

The plane, which can take off and land on short, unimproved runways, had its first flight in July, and generated strong initial interest at two U.S. air shows this summer. The company is hosting a series of demonstration flights for potential customers across the country through October, Kubit said.

He said Northrop would market the new plane for use in border patrol, law enforcement, disaster response and special operations missions.

He declined to give an exact price, but said the new plane, equipped with a standard package of sensors, would cost about the same as a Pilatus PC-12 built by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland, which sells for just under $4 million, and millions less than the King Air, both without surveillance equipment.

Northrop is also pitching a new remotely-piloted unmanned plane, Sandstorm, that it says would dramatically lower the cost of training pilots to fly drones such as Predators and Reapers, giving them more opportunities to practice and possibly averting damage caused by many hard landings of the unmanned planes.

Sandstorm, which can be flown via the Internet, could also be used for testing payloads and some limited operations, said Karl Purdy, manager of new unmanned aerial system programs for the Northrop technical services division.

Each new aircraft and its control system costs less than $100,000, Purdy said, calling the program the brainchild of Don Bintz, one of the first pilots to fly the Predator drones that are built by privately held General Atomics.

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
Army buying 20 man-portable UAVs for Kashmir operations

NEW DELHI To better arm its troops fighting insurgents in the border state of Jammu and Kashmir, the army is buying 20 man-portable, mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be deployed to gather intelligence and mount surveillance.

The mini-UAVs are being bought by the Udhampur-based Northern Army Command. Earlier this month, it issued a tender open to global original equipment manufacturers.

Sources in the Northern Army Command said the mini-UAVs will augment the Israeli UAVs that the over 300,000 troops in Jammu and Kashmir already use.

“The tender was issued earlier this month and we expect the mini-UAV manufacturers to respond by the beginning of September this year. After perusal of the proposals, the orders will be placed for the 20 mini-UAVs required at present,” sources said.

The procurement is being made under the Northern Army Commander’s special financial powers as “the quantity is less and costs low”, the source said.

The mini-UAV that the troops will get will weigh less than 10kg and can be transported on the shoulders of a trooper.

The mini-UAV will have cameras, including an infrared one, for night use. It also comes equipped with recording devices and sensors for mounting surveillance.

“We have asked for mini-UAVs that can be assembled by the troops themselves within 20 minutes and deployed for about an hour over a specific area of about five-km radius,” sources said.

The mini-UAVs will be propelled by an electric motor and hence it will be literally noise-free once it attains a height of 500 metres above ground level. This will help it avoid detection.

The ceiling for this flying machine will be 1,000 metres above ground level. It will have a cruise speed of about 40 knots or over 70kmph.

Armed forces are now using about 100 Searcher-II and 60 Heron UAVs, both from the Israeli stable.

India is also in the process of developing indigenous UAVs such as Nishant and Rustom.

(Image shown an Elbit Skylark, one of the contenders)

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
Heads up UK FPV flyers

Interesting times. I have noticed a recent rise in searches arriving at sUAS News for UK CAA FPV prosecutions. They land with us I think because of the Mersyside Police stuff in 2010. Well obviously something is up so I had a search and a FOIA request made to the CAA popped up.

I am writing in respect of your recent application of 20 July 2012, for the release of  information held by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Your request:

“Regarding Hobbyist FPV/UAV fliers

1) How many hobbyist FPV/UAV fliers have been investigated for breach of CAA rules?

2) How many hobbyist FPV/UAV fliers have been prosecuted for breach of CAA rules?

How many were convicted and what was the range of, and average, penalty?

Regarding Commercial FPV fliers.

1) How many commercial FPV/UAV fliers have been investigated for breach of CAA  rules?

2) How many commercial FPV/UAV fliers have been prosecuted for breach of CAA rules? How many were convicted and what was the range of, and average, penalty?

You may limit the period to the last five years if you so wish”

Our response:

In assessing your request in line with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), we are pleased to be able to provide the information below. Changes to legislation were introduced to the Air Navigation Order 2009 (ANO 2009)
regarding the requirement for operators of small unmanned aircraft to obtain CAA  permission when their aircraft are being used for aerial work, and also in some cases for surveillance or data acquisition purposes (now termed small unmanned surveillance aircraft).

Unmanned aircraft having a mass of less than 7 kg are also now covered by this legislation, which is intended to ensure public safety by applying appropriate operational constraints, dependdent on the flying operation being conducted and the potential risks to third parties.

Further information can be found in CAP 722 on the following link:

We therefore, only hold information relating to the last 3 years.

The CAA can confirm that it has investigated 4 cases in the last 3 years and on each case  no evidence of a Breach of the ANO was found and the files were subsequently closed.

The CAA can also confirm that 1 of these cases was aerial work and the other 3 were  hobbyists

Seems like a measured response from the CAA, but I wonder who is asking and why. The UK is well served by an active, responsible group of enthusiasts at FPV UK They have been in talks with the CAA that have led to some of the most sensible rules anywhere.

This FOIA request rather puts me in mind of the quite outrageous threats made to RC flyers at Old Warden, the home of the Shuttleworth Collection

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
Expansion planned for UAVs at Webster Field

By NICOLE CLARK, Staff Writer

Maryland Army National guardsmen have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, where they flew unmanned aircraft that helped them outwit their enemies.

In one incident, guardsmen watched insurgents load improvised explosive devices into two vehicles. “What our guys did was call in an airstrike and they dropped 500-pound bombs on the cars,” said spokesman Lt. Col. Charles Kohler. “Who knows how many people they saved by doing that.”

But some 15 to 20 Maryland guardsmen have been doing the high-tech maintenance and training for unmanned aircraft work in a tent and in a trailer at Webster Field. Big changes are in the works for the facilities, and those changes will help them do their jobs.

Today, Aug. 29, the Maryland National Guard is scheduled to break ground on a 10,000 square-foot, $4.3 million unmanned aircraft facility. “It’s going to be state-of-the-art,” Kohler said.

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
Drone launched in search for Dean

SKY Watch Civil Air Patrol (Northern Ireland) have carried out a search for missing man Portrush Dean Patton.

Early on Friday morning on Ramore Head, Portrush, they used an un-manned aircraft in the search.

The search took place at first light on Friday shortly after low tide, at approximately 6.40am. High definition video imagery was recorded by the drone at various altitudes.

All of the headland, cliff-faces and rock shelves plus 100 metres out to sea was captured. The un-manned fixed-wing aircraft was in the air for just over five minutes.

The pilot was on the ground observing live telemetry of the flight. The aircraft was stabilised using the onboard auto pilot. The aircraft is battery powered and is made of foam. It has a 1.4m wingspan and weighs just over 1kg.

Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol carries out humanitarian airborne search missions on behalf of statutory agencies, voluntary organisations, families and individuals. The collected imagery is handed over to the agency or individual who has asked for the mission. Sky Watch does not analyse the imagery.

Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol (Northern Ireland) has permission from the Civil Air Authority to operate drones in the UK.

The UAV pilot, Paul Trimble, said: “During the first deployment of the drone on a call-out the conditions were excellent for searching, even though there was light rain falling. I hope that the data collected will bring some comfort to Dean’s family.”

The request to search was made by Dean’s family and the data collected has been handed over to Coleraine CID for analysis.

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
New UAS Training School Welcomes Marines

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. | Future Unmanned Air System (UAS) operators now have access to a new training and logistics activity in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

A team from the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS program office (PMA-263) here launched the Training and Logistics Support Activity (TALSA) in mid-July to Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force. The activity allows troops to receive UAS training on short notice and expand the previous curriculum to include all Group I UAS assets.

Group I UAS assets weigh less than 20 pounds; typically fly at altitudes below 1,200 feet; and fly between 45 minutes to approximately two hours. They include: RQ-11B Raven, Wasp, RQ-20A Puma and RQ-16B T-Hawk UAS.

“Consistent training and sustainment support are key components for any weapon system and are integral to the warfighter’s mission success,” said Col. Jim Rector, PMA-263 program manager. “After years of operational contingency funding and rapid fielding of numerous small UAS, we identified this as an area that we needed to rapidly improve.”

Rector said small UAVs provide the battlefield commander an organic capability, within his or her unit, to perform over-the-horizon reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. This reduces operational risks and enhances his or her decision process.

Historically, the Marines used other contracts to support their UAS training requirements for the RQ-11B Raven. The newly established TALSA offers classes more frequently with an expanded curriculum, giving Sailors and Marines greater flexibility when going on rapid deployment. Additionally, PMA-263 recruited directly from the Wounded Warrior Project to staff the support activity, giving former service men and women an opportunity to continue their service in a new capacity.

The courses focus on the systems’ function, employment, maintenance and troubleshooting issues. Once trained, UAS operators can tactically and effectively employ Group 1 systems to include mission planning, mission sensor/payload operations, launching, remotely piloting and recovering the aerial vehicle.

PMA-263 plans to establish an additional TALSA at Camp Pendleton, Calif. later this year.

“Our job at PMA-263 is to ensure we provide and support the products that “find & fix” our nation’s adversaries and threats,” Rector said. “This allows our Sailors and Marines to do what they do best, and that is to “finish” those threats.”

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize 
UAS Europe acquires UAV IP rights

UAS Europe, Sweden, has announced that they have acquired the intellectual property rights, manufacturing capabilities and airframe stock for two different unmanned aircraft from UAV SERVICES AND SYSTEMS, Germany. The larger aircraft is called X-SIGHT, has a 4-stroke engine, wingspan of 3.15 meters, a payload capacity of 7 kg and endurance of up to 10 Hours.

The smaller hand or catapult launched aircraft, mX-SIGHT, has an electric engine, wingspan of 2 meters, payload capability of 3.5 kg and endurance of up to 2 Hours. The two aircraft have been renamed Spy Owl 200 and Spy Owl 300. “We see the acquisition of the these two system as a very strategic step where we now can provide three different types of UAVs. UAV trainer system, portable and reliable hand launched UAVs and not the least a long endurance system with great surveillance capabilities.

UAV SERVICES AND SYSTEMS has done a tremendous job in assuring superb building quality, long endurance and very reliable UAVs. We are proud to be the new owners of such professional UAV systems.”, says Henrik Wolkesson, project manager at UAS Europe, Sweden. “We have been searching for a suitable company to take over the production of our UAVs: mX-SIGHT and X-SIGHT. Our limited resources has prevented us from taking the development and manufacturing to the next level. We are fully convinced that UAS Europe has the right knowledge and capabilities to make this a UAV success story”, says Stephan Sabath, CEO at UAV SERVICES AND SYSTEMS, Germany.

— 2 years ago
#drone  #uav  #unmanned  #rpas  #suas  #tumblrize