January 27, 2020 – February 2, 2020
A U.S. airstrike in Yemen targeted Qassim al-Rimi, the head of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. According to The New York Times, U.S. drones began tracking al-Rimi after the CIA learned of his whereabouts in November. It is not yet confirmed that al-Rimi was killed in the strike.
Citing cybersecurity concerns, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed an order formalizing a pause in the Department’s drone operations. The pause first went into effect in October, reversing an earlier finding by the Department that Chinese-made drones could be used under certain conditions without posing a security risk. The Department’s fleet of over 800 drones has been used for wildlife surveys, terrain mapping, firefighting, and emergency response operations. (NPR)
The German government cancelled a $2.5 billion plan to purchase Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton surveillance drones. According to officials who spoke with Defense News, the defense ministry did not believe that the Tritons could meet European safety requirements to fly in civilian airspace by 2025 and was concerned about the rising cost of the platform. Germany will instead purchase manned Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft.
Know Your Drone
Israel Aerospace Industries announced that it is preparing to unveil the Heron MK II, a new variant of the company’s Heron medium-altitude long-endurance drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
Drone maker Draganfly unveiled three new sensors for agricultural and environmental monitoring drones. (AIN Online)
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Ukrainian firm Meridian Corporation unveiled the Bereginya, a surveillance and reconnaissance quadcopter drone. (C4ISRNET)
U.S. firm Kaman Air Vehicles announced that it is developing a commercial UAS kit for its K-MAX heavy-lift helicopter drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
British firm AutoNaut and the University of East Anglia are partnering to develop an unmanned surface vessel capable of deploying sea gliders in remote locations. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
Sterling, a Turkish defense contractor, unveiled a counter-drone ammunition round designed for shotguns. (Shephard Media)
Drones at Work
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Ground Force revealed that it conducted a high-altitude military ground exercise on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau involving several unmanned ground and air systems in August 2019. (Jane’s)
Chinese drone maker Harwar released a photo showing its H16-V12 multirotor drone equipped with two grenade launchers and a missile in what appears to be a People’s Liberation Army exercise. (Jane’s)
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a 46-year-old Florida man after he allegedly flew a drone into a restricted zone near the site of this year’s Super Bowl. (Associated Press)
Meanwhile, the FBI warned would-be drone operators to steer well clear of the Super Bowl, noting that there have been more than 50 instances of drones entering restricted zones. (Bloomberg)
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration closed the airspace over the crash site of the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant after several drones were spotted flying in the area. (DroneDJ)
The U.S. Navy deployed its first MQ-4C Triton high-altitude long-endurance surveillance reconnaissance drone to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam. (Jane’s)
U.S. engineering firm Stone Aerospace used an unmanned undersea vehicle to map the interior of Dragon’s Breath Cave, a large underwater cave network in Namibia. (Commercial Drone Professional)
Customs officials in India are investigating the sale of 22 Chinese-made drones that were imported into the country without the requisite paperwork. (Times of India)
Government-backed forces in western Libya claim that they shot down a Chinese-made drone supplied by the United Arab Emirates to Khalifa Haftar, the head of the self-styled Libyan National Army. (Reuters)
Israel Aerospace Industries announced that it has tested the Drone Guard counter-drone system at international airports in Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. (Globes)
According to a report in the semi-official Tasnim News Agency, an Iranian military Shahed-129 drone crashed in the southwestern province of Khuzestan. (Associated Press)
A Florida Senate committee advanced a bill that will allow state agencies to use drones to manage and eradicate invasive species such as pythons. (Associated Press)
A U.S. Air Force drone pilot appears to have taken his own life after fleeing a court martial for drug-related charges. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wing will begin drone deliveries for clothing brand LSKD in Queensland, Australia. (AUVSI)
The U.S. Air Force has temporarily relocated MQ-9 Reaper drones from Poland to Romania for the second time in 12 months. (Press Release)
The U.S. Army awarded Syracuse Research Corp. a $22.1 million contract modification for continued support for a counter-drone systems program. (DoD)
The U.S. Army awarded six companies $150,000 each to explore using robots and other emerging technologies to transport artillery rounds. (Breaking Defense)
Airspace Link, a U.S. startup developing airspace management tools for local government users, raised $4 million in a funding round led by Indicator Ventures. (TechCrunch)
Lockheed Martin and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ) have partnered to develop next generation drones and provide maintenance services for the Polish military. (Jane’s)
Syniverse and GE Aviation subsidiary AiRXOS have partnered to develop a secure communications network for domestic drone operations. (Press Release)
In a statement, the Turkish Defense Industry Presidency said that the Turkish military has taken delivery of 356 upgraded KARGU-2 loitering munitions. (Daily Sabah)
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy have launched a $74.4 million program to develop a turbofan engine for drones. (Yonhap)
UPS and University of California San Diego Health have partnered to expand drone deliveries of medical products between health centers and labs. (Press Release)
Rady’s Children Institute for Genomic Medicine and Deloitte have partnered to explore drone deliveries for genomic samples. (DroneDJ)
Commentary, Analysis, and Art
At The Drive, Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway dig into the story behind the secretive U.S. RQ-170 deployment to South Korea in 2009.
Chinese drone manufacturer DJI criticized the U.S. Interior Department’s decision to suspend drone operations, calling it “politically motivated.” (Aviation International Online)
At the Motley Fool, Lou Whiteman explains why Germany decided to cancel plans to purchase MQ-4C Triton surveillance drones.
At USNI News, Megan Eckstein examines the technologies underpinning the Navy’s development of large unmanned surface vessels.
At Air Force Magazine, Lt. Col. Johnny Duray reflects on the lessons learned from three case studies involving MQ-9 Reaper operations.
At UAS Norway, Anders Martinsen writes that the Chula Vista Police Department’s drone program is “one of a kind.”