Weekly Roundup 9/9/19

September 2, 2019 – September 8, 2019

At the Center

Last week, Center for the Study of the Drone co-director Arthur Holland Michel testified before the U.K. Parliament Defence Select Committee as part of the Domestic Threat of Drones Inquiry. In the hearing, Arthur discussed the security implications of near-future advances in drone technology, the vulnerability of British facilities and infrastructure to aerial intrusion, and the broad range of challenges and issues surrounding counter-drone technology.

Top Stories

The United Kingdom is considering deploying MQ-9 Reaper drones to the Gulf region. According to a report in Sky News, the Royal Air Force’s drones could accompany British warships as they escort commercial tankers through the Strait of Hormuz. The U.K. already has Reapers based in Kuwait for operations over Iraq and Syria.

Estonia will lead a European project to develop a next generation unmanned ground vehicle. The Estonian Center for Defense Investment announced that Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, and Spain will also participate in the Modular Unmanned Ground Systems project, which is funded by the European Defense Initiative. A prototype is scheduled to begin testing in 2021. (Jane’s)

Turkish military drones have reportedly interrupted commercial air traffic at Paphos International Airport in Cyprus on multiple occasions, though an official said they did not present an imminent risk of collision. Turkey’s Navy has repeatedly deployed drones to the region to monitor the Fatih, a Turkish deepwater drillship currently operating off the coast of Cyprus. (ekathimerini.com)

Know Your Drone

Iran’s Army Air Defense Force unveiled the Kian, a jet-powered long-range drone that can carry warheads to strike targets as a missile. (UPI)

In a test, drone maker UAVOS flew its HiDRON stratospheric glider drone to an altitude of more than 98,000 feet. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Israeli firm Steadicopter unveiled the Black Eagle 50, a military helicopter drone that does not rely on GPS for navigation. (Shephard Media)

Russian firm KB Luch began flight testing of the Korsar tactical fixed-wing drone, which is slated to be delivered to the Russian Land Forces next year. (Shephard News)

Defense firm BAE Systems is converting two M113 AS4 Armoured Personnel Carriers into unmanned ground vehicles for testing and experimentation by the Australian Army. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Consumer drone maker Parrot unveiled a new version of its Anafi drone equipped with a First Person View system. (The Verge)

The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation unveiled a net-carrying hexacopter drone for counter-drone operations. (CNN)

Drones at Work

The Lebanese army said in a statement that an Israeli military drone entered its airspace and dropped incendiary material on a wooded area, sparking a forest fire. The Israel Defense Forces acknowledged starting a fire in the area but did not disclose whether it used a drone for the operation. (Reuters)

Chinese drone maker XAG and German agricultural firm Bayer Crop Science are testing swarms of crop-spraying drones against the fall armyworm, an agricultural pest. (Bloomberg)

The Hong Kong police are testing thermal drones for detecting suspects at night and in remote areas. (South China Morning Post)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has begun field tests of a truck-launched surveillance drone developed by Planck Aerosystems. (FedScoop)

The Indonesian Air Force has received a Chinese CH-4 medium-altitude long-endurance drone for a series of demonstration flights. (Jane’s)

The University of Michigan Police Department arrested two individuals for allegedly flying a drone over Michigan Stadium during a college football game. (Detroit Free Press)

Police in Dillwyn, VA recovered a drone carrying drugs and a cellphone outside of the Buckingham Correctional Center. (The Washington Post)

The Ukrainian Air Force Command has begun training its first cohort of operators for the Bayraktar TB2 drone. (Ukrinform)

The U.S. Office of Naval Research is testing a quadcopter drone for autonomously detecting corrosion on the decks of U.S. Navy ships. (Press Release)

Industry Intel

Israeli firm Rafael and businessman Avichai Stolero have completed the acquisition of Aeronautics, an Israeli military drone manufacturer, in a deal valued at $240 million. (Defense News)

Chinese drone maker DJI has raised prices on its drones by 15 percent due to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. (DroneDJ)

The U.S. Army awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $29.3 million contract for logistics support services for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle. (DoD)

The government of Turkey has committed $105.5 million in financial support to drone maker Baykar Makina for the development Bayraktar TB2 and Akinci. (Jane’s)

Yamaha Motor Company is partnering with Kenya’s Astral Aerial Solutions to provide delivery and crop-spraying drones in Kenya. (Cargo Facts)

SkyWatch.AI has partnered with AUVSI to offer insurance plans for drone pilots. (Commercial Drone Professional)

Drone Delivery Canada opened a 16,000-square-foot facility in Ontario to manage the company’s fleet of 1,500 drones. (Northern Ontario Business)

Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces have reportedly acquired the Bukovel AD, a counter-drone system made by the Ukrainian firm PROXIMUS. (The North African Post)

The U.S. Navy awarded VideoRay a contract for an unmanned underwater platform for explosive ordnance disposal. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Drone firm Hitec Commercial Solutions acquired the small commercial drone manufacturer Straight Up Imaging. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At the Mail and Guardian, Gilbert Nakweya weighs the costs and benefits of using drones to deliver medicines to remote areas.

At the Guardian, Susie Cagle looks at how firefighters are using drones to ignite controlled fires.

Meanwhile, at C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton considers what the U.S. military can learn from forest firefighting drones.

At The Daily Beast, Casey Coombs looks at how Amazon intends to overcome competitors with an ambitious plan for drone deliveries.

In an address to the European Parliament, European Union Aviation Safety Agency Director Patrick Ky argued that the E.U. should develop standards for acceptable noise levels for drones flying in urban areas. (Aviation International Online)

At The Washington Post, Tristam Korten writes that hurricane forecasters are increasingly turning to new tools like drones to predict when storms will intensify.

At Shephard Media, Richard Thomas looks at a few of the different approaches to countering drones.

At Al Jazeera, Folly Bah Thibault looks at how drones are reshaping military operations in the Middle East and around the world.

At Defense News, Jen Judson writes that the U.S. Army is testing a new algorithmic warfare system on its MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones.

At the Drive, Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway write that drones are at the center of the U.S. Air Force’s plans for the future of aerial combat.

In an essay at The Atlantic, Zachary Fryer-Biggs considers the ways in which autonomous weapons will dominate future conflicts.

Meanwhile, The Economist examines a variety of artificial intelligence technologies that could be used in warfare.

At Breaking Defense, Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. writes that former deputy defense secretary Bob Work is stepping up his criticism of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

A study by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries examines the ways in which unmanned surface vehicles can complement manned vessels in environmental surveys.

At USNI News, Gidget Fuentes looks at how a new U.S. Navy squadron is preparing to use the Navy’s new Sea Hunter unmanned surface vehicle.

 

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