Weekly Roundup 3/2/20

February 24, 2020 – March 1, 2020


Top Stories

A suspected Israeli drone strike in Syria reportedly killed one person. According to a report in Syrian state-run TV, the strike occurred near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The broadcast claimed that the individual killed was a civilian, while a U.K.-based Syrian human rights group said that he was an anti-Israel operative. (Associated Press)

Turkey launched dozens of drone strikes in Syria in a bid to halt gains made by the Assad regime and to retaliate for the deaths of 33 Turkish soldiers. The strikes targeted armored vehicles, bases, chemical warfare depots, and air defense systems in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. At least one Turkish drone was lost. The air campaign has heightened tensions between Turkey and Russia, which backs the Assad regime. (Bloomberg)

Israeli firm Bluebird Aero Systems announced that it has sold more than 150 WanderB and ThunderB hybrid vertical take-off and landing drones to an unnamed European country. The drones will reportedly be used by infantry, armored, artillery, and special operations forces. According to Bluebird, the value of the contract is in the “tens of millions of euros.” (Defense News)

The U.S. Department of Defense published guidelines for the development and use of artificial intelligence. In a statement, Secretary Mark Esper said that the principles are intended to ensure that these technologies live up to the country’s “ethical values while maintaining and strengthening America’s technological advantage.” A number of the Pentagon’s developmental unmanned vehicle programs incorporate AI capabilities. (Military Times)

Know Your Drone

Chinese firm BGJX revealed new details about its Dragon JH-1, a surveillance helicopter drone. (Jane’s)

A team of researchers at the University of Maryland is developing an acoustic-based system to enable small drones to evade projectiles. (Association for Computing Machinery)

U.S. engineering firm Navmar Applied Sciences announced that it has completed flight testing of its TEROS medium-altitude long-endurance fixed-wing drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Emirati firm Edge unveiled the Garmousha, a rotary-wing surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (The National)

France’s military procurement agency and Dassault Aviation completed a new round of flight tests of the nEUROn stealth combat drone prototype, including a joint demonstration with multiple manned aircraft. (Shephard Media)

South African firm Rippel Effect and Emirati firm International Golden Group unveiled a 40mm grenade launcher system designed specifically for drones. (defence Web)

Italian defense firm Leonardo announced that it will conduct a series of manned-unmanned teaming trials in which pilots of a Lynx Wildcat helicopter will directly control a linked unmanned aircraft. (FlightGlobal)

Drones at Work

Satellite imagery obtained by Jane’s appears to show that Chinese-made Wing Loong II surveillance and strike drones have been deployed to Siwa Air Base in western Egypt.

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen announced that it foiled a Houthi group attack involving an unmanned boat packed with explosives launched from Hodeidah province. (Reuters)

Archaeologists in Gran Canaria, Spain used a drone to aid in the discovery of an ancient Guanche tomb. (New York Post)

Irish startup Manna Aero has announced plans to launch a drone delivery service for fast food chains in Dublin later this spring. (The Irish Post)

The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is exploring the possibility of using tree-planting drones to restore mangrove forests along the country’s shores. (The National)

Kiki Air, a drone delivery startup launched by students at Yale University, has temporarily suspended operations. (Yale News)

The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia has launched a drone program for search and rescue, SWAT, and training operations. (Dawson County News)

An Australian professional drone pilot used a drone to assist in his wedding proposal. (Drone DJ)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Army awarded Griffon Aerospace a $49.9 million contract for MQM-170 “Outlaw” target drones and MQM-170 “Broadsword” unmanned aircraft. (DoD)

The U.S. Army will permit foreign military sales of the Raytheon Coyote Block 2 counter-drone system. (Jane’s)

The U.S. Navy awarded Alion Science and Technology a $14.4 million contract modification for the development of systems for unmanned vehicles and weapons. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy granted Milestone C approval for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System, allowing it to proceed to low-rate initial production. (Press Release)

The U.S. Navy awarded AAI/Textron a $21.8 million contract modification for work on the Unmanned Influence Sweep System Unmanned Surface Vehicle Program. (DoD)

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Lockheed Martin a $12.3 million contract for the Manta Ray extra-large unmanned undersea vehicle program. (DoD)

The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center announced that $207 million of trade deals were made at the three-day Unmanned Systems Exhibition in the United Arab Emirates. (Gulf Business)

The U.A.E. Armed Forces awarded Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments Company a $63 million contract for Schiebel CamCopter S-100 rotary-wing drones. (Press Release)

The U.A.E. Armed Forces awarded Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments Company a $15 million contract and South Africa’s Denel Dynamics a $6.8 million contract for unspecified types of drones. (Emirates News Agency)

The University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories have partnered to assess threats posed by small drones. (Press Release)

Indonesia’s legislature allowed the Defense Ministry to accept a U.S. grant of 14 Boeing Insitu ScanEagle surveillance drones for the Indonesian Navy. (Jakarta Post)

Mzansi Aerospace Technologies and Royal HaskoningDHV have launched a startup accelerator for drone ventures in South Africa. (defenceWeb)

Citadel Defense announced that it has delivered Titan counter-drone systems to an unnamed military customer. (Commercial Drone Professional)

Nav Canada and Unifly have partnered to provide a drone flight management system for Canada. (Commercial Drone Professional)

German firm Rheinmetall has partnered with several Australian research organizations to develop combat robots. (Jane’s)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

In its annual report, France’s Court of Auditors argued that cultural resistance and a lack of investment has caused French military drone programs to fall behind those of other countries. (Le Point)

At SeaPower, Edward Lundquist writes that the U.S. Navy’s 4th Fleet is positioning itself as a center for technical innovation by incorporating a variety of unmanned systems.

Speaking at a conference in Florida, U.S. Air Force General James Michael Holmes said that drones could start replacing manned fighters by the mid-2020s. (FlightGlobal)

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Roland Li writes that multiple drones have crashed into the Golden Gate Bridge since 2014.

At Bloomberg, Natalia Drozdiak looks at how Irish startup Manna Aero is working to bring drone deliveries to Dublin’s suburbs.

Meanwhile, at the Independent, Adrian Weckler writes that Irish aviation authorities may not grant Manna Aero permission for drone deliveries.

At Aviation International Online, Vladimir Karnozov examines the ways in which Russian drones are helping the forces of the Assad regime improve the accuracy of artillery.

At Air Force Magazine, Rachel S. Cohen writes that the U.S. Air Force surprised the General Atomics with its plan to abruptly end procurement of the MQ-9 Reaper in Fiscal Year 2021.

Meanwhile, at The Drive, Tyler Rogoway writes that the Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper decision signals a shift toward drones that can be used in near-peer conflicts.

At IEEE Spectrum, John Boyd looks at how a solar-powered drone made by BAE Systems is aiming to compete with satellites.

At C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton looks at how DARPA is encouraging companies to develop drones and robots for underground operations.

 

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