December 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020
A U.S. drone strike in Iraq killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, a leading Iranian military figure who served as the head of the country’s Al Quds Force. In a statement, the U.S. military said that the strike was ordered by President Trump in response to reports that Soleimani was planning attacks on U.S. personnel in the region. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, vowed “severe revenge” in response to the strike. (The Washington Post)
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is investigating numerous sightings of what appear to be groups of drones over parts of Colorado and southern Nebraska. The sightings largely occur at night, and the unidentified aircraft are reported to have a wingspan of 6 feet and blinking lights. (The New York Times)
PT Dirgantara Indonesia unveiled a prototype for a medium-altitude long-endurance drone designed for the Indonesian Air Force. The prototype, which is the first of its type produced in Indonesia, will reportedly be capable of carrying out strikes. It is expected to begin flight trials later this year. (Aviation Week) For more on military drone proliferation, click here.
Know Your Drone
The U.S. Department of Defense and Perspecta Labs tested a long-range, high-bandwidth 4G LTE communications link that could be used for airborne drones. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
Japanese firm SkyDrive conducted successful flight tests of its delivery multirotor drone in Toyota City. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
Dozens of owners of GoPro’s discontinued Karma quadcopter have reported that their drones are unable to fly, likely as a result of faulty clock rollovers in the navigation system. (The Verge)
Drones at Work
Yemen’s Houthi group claimed that it shot down a Turkish-made, Saudi-operated military drone with surface-to-air missile near Al-Salif. (Jane’s)
The U.S. Navy has launched an effort to develop detailed concepts of operations for using medium and large unmanned boats in carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups, and surface action groups. (Defense News)
The New York Police Department used drones to monitor crowds at Times Square during the New Year’s ball drop. (USA Today)
Meanwhile, Turkish gendarmerie forces accidentally downed a surveillance drone that Turkish police were using to monitor New Year’s Eve celebrations at Istanbul’s Taksim Square. (Hurriyet Daily News)
The China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, which produces Cai Hong military drones, opened a new production facility in Taizhou, Zhejiang province. (Jane’s)
Remote identification company Pierce Aerospace and smart mailbox company DroneDek have partnered to work on commercial drone deliveries. (Indianapolis Business Journal)
Lockheed Martin Canada CDL Systems and Canadian UAVs have partnered to develop technologies for beyond visual line-of-sight drone flights. (Aviation International Online)
The State of Connecticut awarded Avion Unmanned a contract to provide drone services to state and local government agencies. (Press Release)
The Pakistan Navy took delivery of EMT Penzberg LUNA NG surveillance drones for coastal reconnaissance. (Quwa)
Red Cat Holdings announced that it will acquire Rotor Riot, a manufacturer of drone racing technologies. (Press Release)
Commentary, Analysis, and Art
At The Denver Post, Sam Tabachnik accompanies a team of sheriff’s deputies as they track the mysterious drone sightings in northern Colorado.
At The Las Vegas Review-Journal, Alexander Assefa argues that recent drone incidents at airports underscore the need for more funding for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
At NPR, Troy Rule discusses the implications of the FAA’s proposed rules for identifying and tracking drones.
At Air Force Magazine, Rachel Cohen looks at the ways in which Congress is funding Air Force drone development programs in Fiscal Year 2020.
At Inside Unmanned Systems, Brittany Kuhn looks at how Lockheed’s partnership with Canadian UAVs is a step towards solving the technical challenges associated with BVLOS drone operations.
At Aviation Week, Graham Warwick looks back at a few of the major technical feats accomplished by drones in 2019.
At IEEE Spectrum, Ewen Levick examines Boeing’s plans to conduct flight trails of its autonomous wingman drone in the Australian outback.
At C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton writes that unmanned gyrocopters could have a unique appeal to military customers.
Also at C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton considers whether Russia’s next strategic bomber could be unmanned.
At SeafoodSource, Aaron Orlowski argues that drones can be a useful tool for monitoring illegal fishing.