Weekly Roundup 10/1/18

Frontex, the European border security agency, made its first operational flight with the IAI Heron 1 in Crete on September 25. Credit: Frontex

September 24, 2018 – September 30, 2018

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

In 2012, anticipating an explosion in the use of unmanned aircraft in U.S. skies, Congress instructed the Federal Aviation Administration to develop and implement comprehensive regulations for commercial drone use. The task of overseeing that massive process fell to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who had never imagined that his job would involve so much time spent focusing on drones. In an extensive interview with the Center, Huerta reflects on his role in this first crucial chapter of U.S. drone integration and offers a few thoughts on how to keep everything moving forward.

Top Stories

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation reauthorizing funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. The bill includes provisions that would grant federal law enforcement agencies greater authority to intercept and disable drones that pose a threat to public safety. If it passes the Senate, the legislation could also dismantle a regulatory exemption for recreational drone operators. (Bloomberg News)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to drone pilots not to interfere with the operations of first responders, especially firefighters. In guidance issued to agency personnel in August and published last week, the FAA said it would refer all cases of interference to the agency’s chief counsel. Pilots could face a penalty of up to $20,000 per violation. (Press Release)

An audit by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General found that Customs and Border Protection has failed to safeguard private data collected by the agency’s fleet of Predator B surveillance drones. The report also found that the CBP flew more Predator B missions in 2017 than in any previous year. (Arizona Public Media)

Police in Denmark have arrested two individuals suspected of buying drones for ISIS. The two individuals were detained in the greater Copenhagen area and are believed by Danish law enforcement to belong to a larger network. Last year, Danish police arrested a 28-year-old man on similar charges. (Associated Press)

Know Your Drone

Russian defense firm Kronshtadt Group unveiled an armed variant of the Orion-E medium-altitude long-endurance drone equipped with precision-guided missiles. (Jane’s)

Aerospace firm Bell unveiled a full-scale model of the V-247 Vigilant, a large armed tiltrotor drone that the company is developing for the U.S. Marine Corps. (C4ISRNET)

The Belarusian Academy of Sciences unveiled the Yastreb, a large armable fixed-wing drone. (Jane’s)

In a demonstration over the Baltic Sea, defense firm Airbus demonstrated a manned-unmanned teaming exercise involving various Do-DT25 target drones and a manned command and control airplane. (Airbus)

The U.S. Marine Corps has developed a counter-drone system consisting of two all-terrain vehicles equipped with detection sensors and electronic jamming weapons. (Marine Times)

Russian firm JSC 766 UPTK is developing a new variant of the Uran-9 unmanned ground vehicle equipped with rocket-propelled thermobaric grenades and an extended-range control system. (Jane’s)

The U.S. Army has completed testing for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range, a medium-altitude long-endurance strike and surveillance drone. (Press Release)

Startup firm EyeROV Technologies unveiled the EyeROV TUNA, India’s first domestically produced remotely operated underwater vehicle. (India Today)

In a demonstration at the U.S. Navy’s Advanced Naval Technology Exercise near Newport, Rhode Island, an MQ-8C Fire Scout surrogate aircraft conducted an autonomous sonobuoy drop. (Jane’s)

Chinese firms SF Express Fonair Aviation and CASC have converted a manned Y-5B transport airplane into a cargo drone. (East Pendulum)

U.S. drone maker Hoverfly Technologies unveiled the LiveSky SENTRY, a tethered surveillance drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

A French architect has designed a drone that can rapidly build simple rapid-response structures out of mud. (Curbed)

Drones at Work

The South Korean Army has activated a dedicated drone combat battalion at a base south of Seoul. (Yonhap News Agency)

The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina used a drone to assist in the search for Maddox Ritch. (USA Today)

An accident investigation has found that the crash of a U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk last year was caused by a faulty navigation system. (Military.com)

An Aviation Industry Corporation of China AV500W strike and surveillance helicopter drone participated in a military exercise with the People’s Liberation Army. (Jane’s)

French firm ECA group used a rotary drone to measure the magnetic signature of an Indonesian Navy vessel in order to determine its vulnerability to sea mines. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Meanwhile, the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center and drone services firm Aerial Alchemy are testing drones for inspecting Navy vessels. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Ireland’s state police has reported that criminal networks in several rural areas have begun using drones to scope out properties prior to committing robberies. (The Irish Post)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $11.9 million contract for operations and maintenance for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator program. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon a $10.7 million contract for software for the MQ-8 Fire Scout. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded iRobot Defense Holdings a $10.1 million contract for the Man Transportable Robotic System MK1. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded General Atomics a $441.6 million contract for technical services for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded Alare Technologies a $2.3 million contract and SubUAS a $1.6 million contract for work on an underwater-launched unmanned aerial system. (FBO)

The U.S. Army awarded Leidos a $9.8 million contract for work on the RQ-7B Shadow Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing program. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded Rockwell Collins a $15 million contract for software for the RQ-7B Shadow. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded Iowa State University of Science and Technology $199,999 for research into using drones to detect ecological variations in thermal landscapes. (FBO)

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Black Swift Technologies a $26,008 contract for a S2 small unmanned aircraft system. (FBO)

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Pro Drones a $55,000 contract for several small drones and associated technologies. (FBO)

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Echodyne $29,950 for a detect and avoid radar system for unmanned air traffic deconfliction. (FBO)

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Meteomatics AG $73,200 for an unmanned aircraft system. (FBO)

The Danish Defense Acquisition and Logistics Organization awarded Teledyne Gavia a contract to support the Danish Navy’s Gavia unmanned undersea vehicle. (Shephard Media)

MyDefence, a Danish counter-drone company, raised $425,000 in funding from Innovation Fund Denmark. (sUAS News)

The Unmanned Air Systems Range in Foremost, Canada raised $225,000 in funding from the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development. (Chat News Today)

L3 Technologies has acquired ASV Global, a U.S. company that specializes in unmanned surface vehicles. (Jane’s)

The government of Germany is seeking to sell the Euro Hawk, a high-altitude surveillance drone based on the RQ-4 Global Hawk, to Canada. (Defense News)

Telecom firm AT&T has partnered with Dedrone, a San Francisco-based startup that specializes in counter-drone technology. (Internet of Business)

SenseHawk, a startup company that specializes in using drones to inspect solar energy farms, raised $2 million from SAIF Partners. (TechCrunch)

Australia’s Defence Innovation Hub awarded UAV Vision a $2 million contract to develop a micro gimbal for the Australian Army. (Defence Connect)

Mota Group, a San Jose-based company that acquired the failed drone startup Lily, has settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over a claim that it overstated its revenue in an IPO filing. (Silicon Valley Business-Journal)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Defense News, David B. Larter writes that the U.S. Marine Corps is looking into how unmanned undersea vehicles can clear sea mines.

At Aviation Week, Graham Warwick writes that Mitre Corporation, a U.S. think tank, is proposing a new airspace surveillance system that can monitor the thousands of drones expected to operate in future urban areas.

In an interview with Drone Wars UK, Dr. Peter Lee discusses his new book, Reaper Force, which is based on dozens of interviews with British military drone crews.

At The Times, Lucy Fisher writes that the British Army is giving soldiers classes on the ethics of remote killing.

At NBC 7 San Diego, Tom Jones, Paul Krueger, and Mari Payton look into why a local law enforcement agency is not permitted to use its counter-drone devices.

At the Times of India, Rajat Pandit writes that India’s new communications satellite could give its fleet of drones a capability boost.

At the Small Wars Journal, Christopher Flaherty considers the ways in which infantry can utilize micro drones.

At the Lincoln Journal-Star, Nancy Hicks looks into why several local government agencies have acquired drones.

In a video report, Vice News highlights the Georgia State Department of Corrections’ efforts to combat drone smuggling. (YouTube)