Weekly Roundup 3/10/20

March 2, 2020 – March 8, 2020

Please note: The Weekly Roundup will be discontinued on March 30 as the Center winds down its operations. If you are interested in receiving a continuation of this newsletter, please respond to the following brief survey before March 18: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/drone_newsletter

“Unarmed and Dangerous: The Lethal Applications of Non-Weaponized Drones” 

In recent years, the policy debate around military drone use has largely focused on armed drones and ignored the much more rapid and widespread proliferation of non-weaponized drones—which can be just as lethal in their own right. As a result, we have failed to capture the full impact of unmanned aircraft in modern warfare. In a new comprehensive report, Arthur Holland Michel describes how unarmed drones are widely used to directly enable kinetic operations in warfare, often in ways that raise unaddressed ethical, tactical, and legal concerns.

Top Stories

The Turkish military conducted a drone strike against Syrian government forces in Idlib province shortly before a ceasefire between the two countries came into force. According to the Turkish Ministry of National Defence, the strike targeted an artillery position and killed 21 individuals. (Reuters)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has received more than 45,000 public comments on its draft remote identification rules for drones, around 10 times as many comments as its last significant drone rules proposal. Support for the “Remote ID” proposal has split commercial and recreational drone groups. The comment period has now closed. (Aviation Week)

Know Your Drone

U.S. drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems unveiled the Defender, a concept for a jet-powered air-to-air combat drone that could be used to protect high-value aircraft like tankers and reconnaissance planes. (The Drive)

Drone maker UAVOS and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology unveiled the Saker-1B, a medium-altitude long-endurance drone that can operate autonomously. (Jane’s)

Spanish firm Sistemas de Control Remoto unveiled the ASTER-T, a tethered multirotor surveillance drone. (Jane’s)

A team of mathematicians from Purdue University and the Technical University of Munich have determined that it is possible to develop drones that can map their surroundings using echolocation. (DroneDJ)

Singapore-based firm Zycraft unveiled the Dolphin, a small unmanned surface vessel designed for transporting emergency items between ships in adverse sea conditions. (Jane’s)

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have launched a new laser counter-drone system called Light Blade. (Globes)

General Atomics and L3Harris Technologies announced that they have integrated the WESCAM MX-20 sensor pod aboard the MQ-9 Predator B surveillance and strike drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Drones at Work

The Saudi military announced that the Houthi group launched an unsuccessful attack on an oil tanker using a remote controlled boat packed with explosives in the Gulf of Aden. (Jane’s)

A drone carrying explosives crashed during a Russian arctic military exercise in Murmansk, injuring six soldiers. (Mirror)

Frankfurt airport in Germany suspended flights twice for a total of almost three hours after drones were spotted operating near the facility. (Reuters)

The Israeli military announced that it shot down a drone that it claims was launched from the Gaza strip and was flying out over the Mediterranean Sea. (Haaretz)

U.S. Africa Command said that one of its MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones crashed due to a technical malfunction near Agadez, Niger. (Military Times)

Queensland’s Parks and Wildlife Service in Australia is planning to begin using drones to bait and catch problematic crocodiles in the northern regions of the state. (ABC News)

A woman in Nuevo León, Mexico has taught herself to fly a quadcopter drone to aid in the search for her son, who was kidnapped by a drug cartel in 2011. (CNA)

Authorities in Singapore have fined a 41-year-old man S$9,000 for unlawfully flying a drone within five kilometers of Paya Lebar Air Base without a permit. (The Straits Times)

Members of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, an indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon, are using drones to help track deforestation in their territory. (Reuters)

The Turkish military has lost a number of drones to anti-aircraft fire since it launched its recent offensive against the Syrian regime, including two Anka-S medium-altitude long-endurance drones. (AIN Online)

British helicopter service provider Bristow and drone maker Schiebel have launched a trial of helicopter drones for search and rescue operations. (Vertical Magazine)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Air Force awarded AAI a $15.6 million contract for a contractor-owned and contractor-operated unmanned aerial system. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded Sierra Nevada Corp. a $8.5 million contract for the Tactical Automated Landing System for the RQ-7B Shadow. (DoD)

FLIR Systems announced that it has been awarded a $23 million contract for Centaur unmanned ground vehicles by the U.S. Air Force. (Press Release)

Citadel Defense announced that it has been awarded $9.2 million in orders for counter-drone equipment. (Press Release)

The U.S. Marine Corps issued requests for proposals for medium- and long-range surveillance and reconnaissance drones that can be deployed at the unit level. (Jane’s)

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions announced that it has been awarded a $4.9 million contract to support U.S. drone operations and a missile program. (Press Release)

The Airborne Incident Response Team and the Public Safety Unmanned Response Team North Texas have partnered to provide drones for public safety operations. (dronelife)

Parrot and Survae have partnered to integrate Survae’s mapping software into Parrot drones. (Commercial Drone Professional)

Northrop Grumman has offered to accelerate production of Australia’s MQ-4C Triton surveillance drones. (Defense News)

Canadian drone services firm SkyX announced that it has secured an investment by the Drone Fund, a Tokyo-based investment firm. (Press Release)

German drone delivery firm Wingcopter announced that it has secured a second investment from Singapore-based Corecam Capital Partners. (Press Release)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Drone Wars UK, Chris Cole writes that the U.K. appears to be conducting drone operations other than those against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

At The Verge, Matthew Braga looks into how an unmanned boat is helping researchers find shipwrecks in Michigan’s Thunder Bay.

At Commercial UAV News, Danielle Gagne breaks down the key issues of contention in the FAA’s proposed rules for drone remote identification.

At USA Today, Chris Woodyard looks at the growing divide between those who support remote identification for drones and those who oppose it.

In an op-ed at The Hill, Brian Wynne argues that the FAA should encourage voluntary compliance with the remote identification rules while the mandatory requirements are finalized.

At ArsTechnica, Timothy B. Lee writes that the FAA’s plans for drone remote identification would deal a blow to hobbyists.

In a post on its website, the Farm Bureau argues that the FAA’s remote identification proposal would ground drones used by farmers and ranchers.

The Airline Owners and Pilots Associated said that while it supports plans for remote identification for drones it believes the FAA can make changes to ease burdens on recreational users. (AOPA)

At Long War Journal, Joe Truzman writes that Turkish drone strikes in Syria have dealt a blow to Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed militias.

At War on the Rocks, Wolfram Lacher writes that drones allow intervening states in the Libyan conflict to maintain a degree of deniability.

At Quad-City Times, Robert Connelly looks at how insurance adjusters are increasingly turning to drones to assess property damage.