Weekly Roundup 2/17/20

February 10, 2020 – February 16, 2020

Top Stories

The United Nations is set to test drones to combat a severe locust invasion in parts of east Africa. The drones would be used for detecting the swarms, spraying pesticides, and/or mapping affected areas. According to the U.N., the outbreak is the worst in 25 years and could have a significant impact on food supplies in the region. (Reuters)

In an unclassified memo to Congress, the Trump administration provided a justification for the January drone strike that killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force. According to the White House, the strike was in response to a series of attacks by Iran and Iran-backed militias against U.S. forces and interests. Some members of Congress said that this new rationale contradicts claims made by President Trump in the immediate wake of the strike. (The New York Times)

Know Your Drone

At the Singapore Airshow, Rafael, Israel Aerospace Industries, and Controp Precision Technologies all unveiled wide-area surveillance sensors for small drones. (Defense Update)

Singapore-based firm ST Engineering unveiled the Veloce series, a family of fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing surveillance and reconnaissance drones. (Jane’s)

Maritime drone maker OceanAlpha unveiled the M40P, a long-endurance unmanned surface vessel. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Israeli defense firm Rafael conducted a demonstration of its Drone Dome-L counter-drone system with a laser interdiction element weapon. (Jane’s)

Singapore-based consultancy TRD unveiled the Orion-H+, a handheld counter-drone jamming system. (Shephard Media)

The U.S. Marine Corps has launched a program to develop an unmanned ground vehicle capable of launching anti-ship missiles. (Defense News)

U.S. firm Exyn Technologies has unveiled new software that enables drones to operate in and map GPS-denied environments. (C4ISRNET)

EOS Defence Systems defense systems, Milrem, and Rada Radar unveiled a THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle with a counter-drone remote weapon system. (AIN Online)

Aviation photographers spotted what appears to be a large electric vertical take-off and landing drone associated with Toyota at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (The Drive)

Boeing Australia has built the first fuselage structure of its Airpower Teaming System, a loyal wingman jet drone prototype. (FlightGlobal)

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded the University at Buffalo Artificial Intelligence Institute a $316,000 grant to study how gamers’ brain waves could be used to train drones and robots. (Popular Mechanics)

Drones at Work

Australian Research Group UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute unveiled a plan to use drones as an early warning system for bushfires. (DroneDJ)

A U.S. Navy missile cruiser seized a cache of weapons from a dhow operating in the Arabian Sea, including components for drones and unmanned surface vessels. (Press Release)

U.S. firm Draganfly is evaluating the possibility of using drones to screen large crowds for symptoms of infectious diseases. (AIN Online)

An Australian couple quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship near Tokyo appear to have received wine delivered to their cabin by drone. (New York Post)

Industry Intel

The Trump administration’s effort to divert funds from the Department of Defense to the fund construction of a border wall includes cancelling a planned $160 million order for eight MQ-9 Reapers. (NPR)

The U.S. Navy awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $7.8 million contract modification for contractor-operated MQ-9 Reapers. (DoD)

Persistent Systems announced that it has been awarded a $5.4 million contract by the U.S. Army to develop protected communications for manned-unmanned teaming. (Inside Unmanned Systems)

Poland awarded Saab a contract for its Double Eagle SAROV unmanned undersea vehicle for the Polish Navy’s Kormoran II mine countermeasures vessel. (Naval News)

Israeli cyber intelligence firm NSO has acquired Convexum, an Israeli counter-drone and perimeter security company, for $60 million. (Globes)

Hydroid delivered a Remus 300 unmanned undersea vehicle to the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit for evaluation. (Shephard Media)

Auterion Government Solutions and Quantum-Systems GmbH have partnered to develop small hybrid drones for the U.S. defense and security markets. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

France and Germany jointly awarded Airbus and MBDA contracts to pursue the development of the Remote Carrier, the drone component of the Future Combat Air System. (Aerospace Manufacturing)

Airbus and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on an unmanned traffic management system. (FlightGlobal)

Singapore’s ST Engineering and Wilhelmsen Ships Service, a maritime logistics provider, have partnered to develop shore-to-ship parcel deliveries. (FlightGlobal)

U.S. drone manufacturer AeroVironment says that it expects its first international sale of the armed Switchblade loitering munition in the next six to nine months. (FlightGlobal)

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI has pledged $1.5 million towards fighting the Coronavirus. (DroneDJ)

A report by the U.S. Department of Defense inspector general found that the Air Force spent $17.7 million on MQ-9 Reaper upgrades that were never used. (Air Force Times)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At The Oklahoman, Dale Denwalt writes that model aircraft hobbyists are pushing back against the FAA’s proposed new rules for drones.

At Delaware State News, Craig Anderson looks at how a local drone inspections firm got off the ground.

At the Grand Forks Herald, Sam Easter writes that lawmakers from North Dakota are wary of the Trump administration’s plan to decommission some RQ-4 Global Hawks.

In an op-ed, the editorial board of the Carroll County Times argues that a Maryland law governing drone regulations is sowing confusion.

At ABC10, Chris Thomas looks at how the Sacramento Police Department is using custom-made micro-drones.

A leaked document obtained by Australia’s ABC News appears to show that Chinese military officials secretly visited a Cambodian naval base two weeks before what appears to be a  Chinese-made CH-92A surveillance and reconnaissance drone crashed in a nearby province.

At Shephard Media, Gordon Arthur writes that Schiebel is exploring ways of using the CamCopter S-100 for anti-submarine warfare.

Also at Shephard Media, Gordon Arthur examines the various armed robots displayed at this year’s Singapore Airshow.

At USNI News, Ben Werner writes that with its purchase of Hydroid, Huntington Ingalls is preparing for increased demand for unmanned undersea vehicles.

A Pentagon report found that the Navy’s Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicle requires further development. (Jane’s)

A report by the Congressional Research Service examines the various counter-drone programs at the Department of Defense. (USNI News) For more on counter-drone systems, click here.

At Defense One, Patrick Tucker writes that visions of a fully networked smart battlefield are hampered by the U.S. military’s aging and complex communications networks.

At Defense News, David B. Larter writes that the U.S. Navy is proposing to invest millions into plans to integrate maritime drones into future fleets.

At the Motley Fool, Rich Smith looks at why AeroVironment’s stock price tumbled nearly 9 percent.

At technode, Nina Rong writes that robotic food delivery vehicles have found a use amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

German commercial drone manufacturer MicroDrones sponsored a television reality series, “Down to Earth,” that follows a group of professional surveyors. (UAS Magazine)