Weekly Roundup 9/16/19

September 10, 2019 – September 15, 2019

Top Stories

A large scale attack involving drones and cruise missiles caused significant damage to two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. According to U.S. officials, at least 19 points of impact were observed at the sites. The Houthi group in Yemen claimed responsibility for the operation, though U.S. officials have suggested that it may have originated in Iranian territory. In recent months, the Houthis have conducted numerous attacks on Saudi infrastructure using long-range detonating drone technology supplied by Iran. (Al Jazeera)

Serbia confirmed that it will take delivery of nine Chengdu Wing Loong 1s within the next six months, becoming the first European country to acquire Chinese strike-capable drones. Serbia first revealed its intention to purchase Wing Loongs in September 2018, and has since announced that it may place a follow-on order for an additional 15 aircraft. (Stars and Stripes)

Police in the U.K. arrested at least 18 people in connection with an attempt to operate drones near Heathrow Airport as part of a climate change protest action. Heathrow Pause, a splinter group from the Extinction Rebellion, announced several weeks ago that it planned to use drones to interrupt air traffic at Heathrow to protest the addition of a third runway. Law enforcement authorities acknowledged that they used signal jamming systems to disrupt the attempted drone flights within the airport’s exclusion zone, but declined to provide further details. (BBC)

The U.S. Navy announced that it has successfully tested a semi-autonomous drone mine-hunting system. The test marks a significant breakthrough in the decade-long effort to replace manned minesweeping vessels and human divers with unmanned maritime systems. (Defense News)

Know Your Drone

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched Context Reasoning for Autonomous Teaming, a project to develop systems for autonomous teaming between various different kinds of unmanned systems, including drones and ground robots. (C4ISRNET)

Electronic aircraft manufacturer Yates Electrospace unveiled the Silent Arrow GD-2000, a glider delivery drone capable of carrying over 1,600 lbs of cargo. (Engadget)

U.K. firm Drone Evolution unveiled the Skywire, a universal tether system for multirotor drones that can enable the aircraft to remain airborne for up to six hours. (Jane’s)

German defense firm Rheinmetall unveiled the Mission Master-Protection, an unmanned ground vehicle equipped with six Warmate loitering munition drones. (Jane’s)

Meanwhile, Norwegian defense firm Kongsberg announced that it successfully conducted a test in which it remotely fired Javelin missiles and a .50 caliber machine gun from a Titan unmanned ground vehicle. (Press Release)

Estonian firm Milrem Robotics unveiled a new variant of theTHeMIS unmanned ground vehicle, which builds on operational tests conducted in various theaters including France’s Operation Barkhane in Mali. (AUVSI)

Israel Aerospace Industries unveiled the POPSTAR, an electro-optical drone detection and classification system. (Jane’s)

Meanwhile, Israeli firm Elbit Systems unveiled the ReDrone vehicular Tactical System, a vehicle-mounted counter-drone unit. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

The U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has taken delivery of the MAST 13 autonomous unmanned boat for an experimentation and demonstration program. (Jane’s)

U.S. drone maker Flirtey unveiled the Flirtey Eagle, a multirotor delivery drone. (Drone Life)

Meanwhile, U.K. firm FlareBright unveiled the ADDER, a fixed-wing drone for last-mile deliveries. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Russian defense firm Kronstadt unveiled the Orion-2, a high-altitude, long-endurance drone. (AIN Online)

A team from Imperial College London has developed a swimming drone that can launch itself from the water into flight using a solid-fuel explosion. (IEEE Spectrum)

Russian firm Technologies of Automation and Programming unveiled the Feniks, a fixed-wing surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (C4ISRNET)

German carmaker Audi unveiled a concept for an all-terrain vehicle that employs roof-mounted pathfinder drones instead of headlights. (The Verge)

U.S. dronemaker AeroVironment unveiled the VAPOR series of reconnaissance and delivery helicopter drones. (Press Release)

American defense company General Dynamics Mission Systems unveiled the Bluefin-12, a new variant in its family of Bluefin unmanned undersea vehicles. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Drones at Work

Police in Kosovo arrested eight Czech individuals for allegedly planning to fly a drone with a pro-Serbia banner during an upcoming football match between Kosovo and the Czech Republic. (Associated Press)

China’s South China Sea Bureau of the Ministry of Natural Resources announced that it has significantly expanded its use of surveillance drones in the disputed South China Sea region. (Business Insider)

Russian activist Alexei Navalny said that he used a drone to transport one of his hard drives to safety from his offices in Siberia shortly before a raid by government security forces. (USA Today)

The U.S. Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center has launched a program to use fixed-wing drones for land surveying around military facilities. (Press Release)

The Hezbollah group announced that it shot down a small Israeli surveillance drone in south Lebanon. (Reuters)

Austrian Airlines has launched a program to test drones for inspecting the exterior of Airbus A320 aircraft. (Aviation Week)

Chinese firm XAG announced that its crop-spraying drone systems have surpassed 20 million hectares of covered land. (Commercial Drone Professional)

Police in Pineville, Virginia are investigating a local woman for allegedly attempting to use a drone to deliver contraband to a nearby prison. (WSOCTV)

Industry Intel

BAE Systems will acquire Prismatic, a U.K. company that has been working with BAE on developing a solar-power drone. (CNBC)

Chinese drone maker DJI has partnered with Delair, a French drone company, to provide drone services for the enterprise market. (UnmannedAerial.com)

vHive, an Israeli startup that specializes in software for autonomous drones, raised $5.5. Million in a funding round led by Octopus Ventures. (Globes)

The French military has taken delivery of all 27 Novadem NX70 drone systems that it ordered late last year. (45eNord.fr)

FlyLogix Limited, a British provider of drones for offshore energy facility inspection, is collaborating with Total S.A., NATS, and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre to conduct drone flight tests in the North Sea. (Press Release)

The U.K.’s Royal Air Force selected Leonardo to conduct a three-year study on the threat posed by drones and potential countermeasures. (Jane’s)

The U.K. Ministry of Defense awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a 100 million GBP contract to test the new Protector drone. (Forces.net)

India’s Cyient will provide the QinetiQ with advanced avionics products for QinetiQ’s target drones. (Jane’s)

U2 frontman Bono has joined the board of Zipzine, a medical drone delivery startup. (Fast Company)

Sky-Futures has partnered with Saudi Telecom Company to provide drone inspection services for telecommunications and energy infrastructure. (Telecompaper)

Drone Delivery Canada announced that it has partnered with Vision Profile Intrusions to provide drone delivery services between Vision’s properties in Ontario. (Commercial Drone Professional)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

In interviews with The New York Times, U.S. Democratic candidates for president consider whether a U.S. drone strike against an American citizen in 2011 was lawful.

In an interview with Defense News, a Raytheon vice president predicts that there will be a boom in sales of counter-drone equipment.

At Politico Europe, Saim Saeed writes that European nations appear to be less concerned about the potential security vulnerabilities posed by DJI drones than the U.S.

In an interview with C4ISRNET, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan discusses Project Maven, an artificial intelligence system for analyzing footage from drones.

At The Drive, Tyler Rogoway writes that China appears to be set to unveil a high-speed drone at an upcoming military parade.