Weekly Roundup 11/25/19

November 18, 2019 – November 24, 2019

Top Stories

A U.S. drone strike in Somalia killed a senior member of al-Shabab. According to a Somali intelligence official who spoke with the Associated Press, the individual was also associated with other foreign militant groups. In a statement, the U.S. military confirmed that it carried out a strike targeting an Al-Qaida-linked operative in coordination with the Somali government.

The U.S. Air Force is considering retiring up to 21 RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude surveillance drones, two-thirds of its total inventory. The proposal, which was submitted to the Secretary of Defense in preparation for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget negotiations, falls in line with a broader shift away from a counter-terrorism posture and towards greater competition with China and Russia. Earlier this year, Iran shot down a variant of the Global Hawk, highlighting the aircraft’s vulnerability in defended airspace. (Foreign Policy)

Know Your Drone

Boeing Australia conducted a test with a pair of subscale jet aircraft to demonstrate semi-autonomous teaming capabilities as part of its Airpower Teaming System, a program to develop advanced autonomous drones that can operate in tandem with manned fighter jets. (The Drive)

Israeli defense firm Elbit unveiled the Magni, a lightweight surveillance and reconnaissance quadcopter drone. (Jane’s)

A team from Caltech and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory unveiled the Streamlined Quick Unfolding Investigation Drone, or SQUID, a quadcopter that can be launched from a pneumatic baseball pitching machine. (Engadget)

Thailand’s Defence Technology Institute unveiled the D-Iron UGV, an armed unmanned ground vehicle based on the Milrem Robotics THeMIS. (Jane’s)

U.S. drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems test-fired a GBU-69B small glide munition from an MQ-1C Gray Eagle strike drone. (GovConWire)

In a test, Guinn Partners, Skyfire Consulting, the U.S. Department of Health, and Doosan Mobility Innovation flew a hydrogen-powered delivery multirotor drone from St. Croix to St. Thomas, a total distance of 69 km. (New Atlas)

Chinese drone maker DJI and U.S. technology firm WhiteFox demonstrated a cryptologically verified remote identification system for drones. (Commercial Drone Professional)

U.S. maritime exploration company Ocean Infinity has developed a new battery for underwater drones that it claims significantly improves system endurance. (AUVSI)

A team from the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division has developed an autonomous robot for dry dock survey operations. (Press Release)

Drones at Work

The Italian Air Force acknowledged one of its Reaper surveillance and reconnaissance drones crashed in Libya after losing contact with its operators. (Defense News)

Meanwhile, U.S. Africa Command said in a statement that it lost an unarmed surveillance drone operating over Libya. (euronews)

NATO took delivery of its first RQ-4D Global Hawk as part of its Alliance Ground Surveillance program. (Jane’s)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has fined a man $20,000 after an incident in which he lost control of his drone and the aircraft landed beside an active runway at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. (Drone DJ)

According to Politico, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report determined that two drones made by China’s DJI were safe to use by the federal government when equipped with cybersecurity upgrades.

Meanwhile, a White House memo in September expressed opposition to the idea of banning federal agencies from using any drones made by Chinese firms.

Industry Intel

U.S. Special Operations Command awarded Yates Aerospace a contract for testing Silent Arrow delivery drones. (UAS Magazine)

The government of Uganda is engaged in talks with Flexdrone to start a drone delivery service in Uganda. (Reuters)

U.S. Naval Air Systems Command selected the winners of a competition to develop specialized payloads for the planned MUX drone. (FlightGlobal)

Pensa Systems, a startup that uses computer vision and drones to identify items on store shelves, announced that it has raised $10 million in funding. (The Robot Report)

Xocean, an Irish startup that uses unmanned surface vehicles to collect maritime data, announced that it has raised €7.9 million. (Silicon Republic)

DroneShield has delivered a drone detection system to the Australian Defence Forces. (The Market Herald)

UMS Skeldar announced that it expects to win contracts from two countries for the V-200 Skeldar vertical take-off and landing drone. (FlightGlobal)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At The Los Angeles Times, Samantha Masunaga writes that delivery drone schemes may not deliver the environmental benefits that many might expect.

At the Michigan War Studies Review, James Rogers reviews One Nation Under Drones, a volume of essays on unmanned vehicles and associated issues edited by John E. Jackson.

In a letter to the leaders of a U.S. Senate committee, a group of aerospace associations urged lawmakers to reject proposed legislation that would grant state and local governments greater authority to regulate drones.

Meanwhile, in a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, Senator Dianne Feinstein called for greater efforts to prosecute drone operators who interfere with firefighting operations. (DroneLife)

At The Daily Press, PJ Wilson looks at how a Canadian company is using drones to map underground mining sites.

In a podcast at Shepherd Media, journalists and editors discuss recent developments in unmanned air and ground systems.

At The Guardian, Dan Sabbagh examines the proliferation of strike-capable drones.

At USNI News, Megan Eckstein looks at how the U.S. Navy is using wargaming and prototyping to prepare for unmanned surface vehicle operations.

At The New York Times, Eric Schmitt writes that a series of U.S. drone strikes in Libya has put the Islamic State group on the defensive.

A report by the Hudson Institute proposes that the U.S. Navy should expand its inventory of drones to make up for a shortfall in intelligence collection platforms. (DefenseNews)

At C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton examines the logistical challenges that robots will face on future battlefields.

A report by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency finds that drones play a large role in Iranian air power. (FlightGlobal)

At Jane’s, Gerrard Cowan looks at how Oshkosh Defense is seeking to expand the potential roles for its TerraMax autonomous system.

At Axios, Kaveh Waddell summarizes recent developments in the debate over whether U.S. federal agencies should be allowed to use Chinese drones.

At Bloomberg News, Anuradha Raghu explores how drones could transform the palm oil industry in Southeast Asia.

At The Diplomat, David R. Strachan examines China’s recent efforts to develop advanced unmanned undersea vehicles.