Weekly Roundup 9/23/19

September 9, 2019 – September 22, 2019

Top Stories

A U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan reportedly killed 30 civilians and injured 40 people. According to Afghan officials who spoke with Reuters, the strike was intended for members of the Islamic State in Nangarhar province, but instead hit a group of farmers and laborers. A spokesperson for U.S. forces in Afghanistan said that it is investigating the reports of civilian casualties.

A U.S. drone strike in Libya reportedly killed eight members of the Islamic State group. According to U.S. Africa Command, the strike targeted a compound in southern Libya and was carried out by a Reaper drone. (New York Times)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of carrying out the drone and cruise missile strike on two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, calling it “an act of war.” The Trump administration moved to increase financial sanctions on Iran in the wake of the attack. In a news conference, the Saudi military displayed the remnants of drones and cruise missiles allegedly used in the attack and a spokesperson said that the systems originated with Iranian forces. (Associated Press)

U.S. lawmakers introduced draft legislation that would bar federal agencies from buying drones from China. The American Security Drone Act would also bar local law enforcement agencies from buying Chinese drones with federal funds. In a statement, Chinese drone maker DJI said that the bill was “not grounded in facts or reality.” (The Wall Street Journal)

The U.S. Navy conducted the first test flight of the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray, a developmental carrier-launched refueler drone, at MidAmerica Airport in Illinois. The flight, which tested basic flight functions, was conducted by Boeing pilots and lasted two hours. (Defense News)

Know Your Drone

U.S. drone maker AeroVironment conducted the successful first flight of the HAWK30, a solar-powered high-altitude pseudo-satellite drone that the company is jointly developing with HAPSMobile, a division of the Japanese firm SoftBank. (Press Release)

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory unveiled the Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation (LLAMA) system, a quadruped ground robot modeled on a working dog. (Press Release)

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration announced that it will invest $74 million into developing a counter-drone system by 2023. (Channel News Asia)

The U.S. Marine Corps issued a request for information for an unmanned boat with a range of 500 nautical miles. (Marine Corps Times)

Defense firm Leidos and the U.S. Office of Naval Research conducted a demonstration of the Sea Hunter unmanned surface vessel with a new advanced sensor system. (Shephard News)

In a live-test flight of a number of MQ-9 drones, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems demonstrated two new software systems: one that allows a single pilot to control multiple aircraft, and another that carries out automated analysis and tasking. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Defense firm QinetiQ North America unveiled the Squad Packable Utility Robot, a portable reconfigurable ground robot. (Jane’s)

U.S. firm Liquid Robotics unveiled a new variant of its Wave Glider unmanned undersea vehicle. (Press Release)

Drones at Work

An unidentified drone hit a position held by the Popular Mobilization Forces, a pro-government Syrian group, in Albu Kamal, Syria. (Reuters)

An investigation by the Lebanese government has determined that two Israeli drones that crashed in Beirut in August were conducting an attack mission, and that one of the aircraft was carrying 4.5 kg of explosives. (Associated Press)

Off the coast of Portugal, NATO held a large scale naval exercise involving dozens of maritime unmanned systems. (Defense News)

The Oneida Indian Nation and NUAIR, a non-profit, have launched a program to use drones for land and resource management operations in New York. (WRVO)

An Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation Rustom drone crashed during a trial operation in Chitradurga district. (The Economic Times)

The U.S. Air Force’s 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group held a demonstration of a range of drones for airspace security and heavy-lift operations. (Press Release)

South African firm Tellumat completed a series of test flights of the ASTUS fixed-wing surveillance drone. (defenceWeb)

The Kuwaiti government is investigating a reported sighting of a drone over its coastline around the time of the attacks on the Saudi Aramco facilities. (Reuters)

Industry Intel

FedEx announced that it is partnering with Alphabet subsidiary Wing Aviation and pharmacy chain Walgreens to launch a drone delivery service. (Memphis Business Journal)

The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing a $10.9 million contract modification for engineering services for the Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle program. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Arcturus UAV an $8.3 million contract modification for materials and components. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Hydroid a $52 million contract modification for the MK 18 family of unmanned undersea vehicle systems. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Insitu a $260,000 contract for parts for the ScanEagle drone. (FBO)

The U.S. Air Force awarded Kratos Unmanned Systems a $35 million contract for Air Force Subscale Aerial Target spares. (DoD)

The U.S. Air Force awarded General Atomics a contract to demonstrate the Agile Condor high-performance computing architecture on the MQ-9 Reaper. (Press Release)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it intends to award 3D Robotics a contract for a Yuneec 3DR H520-G. (FBO)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Skyfront a $69,500 contract for a drone to support research into terrain and plant systems. (FBO)

USA Drone Port, a drone research and test site in Kentucky, was awarded $1.5 million in funding to expand its facilities. (WYMT)

WhiteFox, a California-based drone airspace security company, raised $12 million in a Series A funding round. (Press Release)

The University of Kentucky was awarded a $1.2 million grant to study the ways in which drones can be used in the event of airborne contaminant emergencies. (The Lane Report)

Citadel Defense announced that it has been awarded a contract valued up to $1.5 million to continue working on counter-drone technology. (Press Release)

Dronisos, a French company that specializes in drone light shows, opened a new office and training center in Florida. (blooloop)

The British Army partnered with the U.K.’s Defence and Security Accelerator to invest GBP 3 million in six Manned-Unmanned Teaming demonstrator vehicles. (Jane’s)

Atlas Elektronik UK announced that it has been awarded a contract for two ARCIMS unmanned surface vehicles. (Press Release)

BP has selected Sonardyne to collect data on offshore oil fields using unmanned surface vehicles. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Three U.S. drone manufacturers formed the American Drone Alliance to encourage a buy-American campaign. (Aviation Week)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At the New York Times, P.W. Singer writes that the drone and cruise missile strike on Saudi oil facilities is a clear sign that the future of war has arrived.

At the Washington Post, Erin Cunningham and Rick Noack write that Iran’s strategic use of drones and missiles has unnerved other countries in the Middle East.

At The Daily Beast, Adam Rawnsley examines the remnants of the drones that attacked Saudi Arabia for clues as to their origin.

At C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton examines the threats that new technologies pose to infrastructure.

At the Eurasia Daily Monitor, Roger McDermott looks at what a recent Russian military exercise says about Russia’s plans for its drones.

At Voice of America, Carla Babb and Hong Xie write that the U.S. military is still buying Chinese-made drones despite a Pentagon ban on their use.

At Wired, Michele Cohen Marill recounts how Hurricane Dorian dashed the plans of a Bahamanian drone company to support relief efforts.

At Military.com, Oriana Pawlyk speaks with the commander of a U.S. drone air wing about the experience of losing an unmanned aircraft.

At Air Force Magazine, Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory writes that the Air National Guard is considering giving mental health officers and chaplains who work with drone squadrons Top Secret security clearances to better support their charges.