Category Archives: Drones

Hamas flying an Iranian-made Armed Drone over Gaza

Al Qassam Brigades are using their Twitter feed to show an Armed Drone flying over Gaza.

Ezzedeen Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas are flying an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) over Gaza Strip and are using the social media to show footage and photographs of the rarely seen Ababil A1B armed drone.

Ababil (Persian: ابابیل‎, “swallow”) is the name of a large family of UAV made in Iran developed for tactical reconnaissance, short/medium range attack and as target drones.

Notheworthy, the Ababil 1 is one of the less known variants belonging to the family, which includes the Ababil 3, reportedly shot down in Iraq by a U.S. F-16 in February 2009, the Ababil 5 medium range recon drone; the Ababil-T, a a twin-tailed attack variant used by Hezbollah in northern Israel; and several other scarcely seen or unconfirmed models, as the Ababil-R and the Ababil-S.

The aircraft depicted in the footage released by Hamas carries four AGMs (Air-to-Ground Missiles) even though it is almost impossible to say whether they are real weapons or just mock ups.

In fact, the group claimed on Twitter that the A1B carried out three missions over Israeli military bases and a specific mission over the Israeli war ministry but the fact the drone didn’t use any of the on board weaponry seems to suggest it does not have a real capability to use it.

In other words, even if we can’t rule the possibility that Hamas’s drones can use their air-to-surface weapons, it seems that it carries four missiles it can’t fire.

These missiles are quite similar to those carried by Fotros, the largest Iranian UCAV to date. When it was unveiled, the Fotros was showcased carrying missiles that resembled the AGM-114 Hellfire. They sported a ‘K-2′ written on them in a similar style to that seen on AGM-114K-2 missiles.

Nevertheless, the unprecedented activity by Hamas drones is confirmed by the Israeli Defense Force, that confirmed to have shot down a UAV with a Patriot missile, near Ashdod, earlier on Monday Jul. 14.

This is not the first time made-in-Iran drones appear far from Tehran, in war-time. Several types of UAV, including brand new models and drones based on captured US robots, have been spotted over Syria during the uprising and subsequent fighting between rebels and Assadists.

But it is quite surprising to see a small/medium drone, as the Ababil 1, flying (almost undisturbed) over Gaza (especially since the airspace over the Strip is currently filled with Israeli Air Force fighter planes). And, above all, it is weird such a small UAV does carry weapons and surveillance sensors: all things that imply a significant payload and require larger airframes, more robust wings and engineering capabilities not believed to be in Hamas possession until today.

 

 

H/T @troublejee for the heads-up

 

 

Transformer jets, self-healing aircraft and UAVs printed with 3D printers: future of aviation unveiled

Scientists and engineers at BAE Systems have released some interesting details about some futuristic technologies that could be operative by 2040. Or earlier.

BAE Systems has been studying futuristic aircraft shapes for quite some time.

The projects the British Defense company is  working on were recently unveiled through a series of animations which show how civil and military aviation of the future could be based on 3D printers capable to print UAVs on-the-fly during a mission; aircraft that can heal themselves; a Transformer long range aircraft which splits into a number of smaller aircraft when it reaches its target, and a directed energy weapon that could engage missiles at the speed of light.

The Transformer is a flexible aircraft system that combines smaller jets: it’s a sort of mothership made of smaller sub-aircraft which can be combined together to increase the range, reduce the overall aerodynamic drag and save fuel during the transit to the area of operations.

Once the mothership has reached the target area, each single craft can split off to conduct its specific mission: attack, surveillance, airdrop to name but few.

The Survivor technology will be used to develop new aircraft and give them the possibility repair any damage sustained during the mission in flight.

The self-healing technology could improve survivability of the aircraft employed in high lethality scenarios. It is based on advanced materials: “a lightweight adhesive fluid inside a pattern of carbon nanotubes from which the aircraft is constructed and is released when damaged to quickly ‘set’ mid-flight and heal any damage,” according to BAE Systems.

Directed Energy Systems (something that has been studied in the U.S. for a long time)  is instead an on board weapon used to concentrate a low cost beam of energy at the speed of light against enemy aircraft, weapons (missiles, mortars, projecticles). In other words, it could be a laser cannon, used to hit and destroy ground and air targets with much accuracy.

Furthermore, BAE Systems foresees the use of hi-tech on-board 3D Printers that, via Additive Layer Manufacturing and robotic assembly techniques, could be used to create small unmanned aircraft on-the-fly, based on the inputs sent by a human operator from the ground control station. Needless to say, such a way to create drones could be useful in various types of mission, including air strike, surveillance or SAR (Search And Rescue) operations, during which drone copters could be created to rescue and recover single civilians or soldiers.

Even more interestingly, “after use the UAVs could render themselves useless through dissolving circuit boards or they might safely land in a recoverable position if re-use was required,” in order to prevent capture.

Even if these concepts may seem a bit futuristic and remind Terminator or Transformer movies, they will probably be the base of the future aerial warfare.

MQ-8C extended-endurance Fire Scout unmanned helicopter caught “on the road” in California

An MQ-8C Fire Scout was spotted on a trailer on I-405 Northbound at Newport Beach, California

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is a Bell 407 helicopter modified with autonomous controls from the MQ-8B drone copter.

It weighs 2.7 tons, has a 1,000 lb payload, can fly for 24 hours and can carry AGM-176 Griffin missiles, APKWS II guided 70 mm rockets, and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

It first flew in October 2013 and the first two unmanned choppers currently involved in flight testing have already surpassed 100 flight hours.

The Navy plans to operate 28 MQ-8Cs for naval special operations forces. One of those (188688) was seen on a trailer moving northbound on Interstate 405 near Newport Beach, California.

 

MQ-8C on the road

Image credit: “Spencer”

 

The Italian Navy is testing a tiny Camcopter drone from its amphibious warfare ship

The Italian Navy is testing the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 Unmanned Aerial System from the San Giusto amphibious warfare ship

In April 2012, the tiny Camcopter S-100 became the first UAS ever to fly from an Italian ship, operating from the ITS Bersagliere frigate.

In February this year, the Italian Navy selected the S-100 as the UAS of choice for use from its fleet: it will be used for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) tasks from ships at sea, and to support military and civil activities such as SAR (Search And Rescue) or assistance in case of natural disasters.

Equipped with a Wescam MX-10 and a Shine Micro AIS (Automatic Identification System), the S-100 has the capability to collect time-critical data during 6-hour missions. By means of its electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors it extends the warship’s ability to see beyond the range of its own sensors and to collect and share critical information, in real-time.

The S-100 carries a 75 lbs/34 kg payload at an altitude of 18,000 feet.

In these days the Marina Militare is testing the tiny drone from the San Giusto amphibious warfare ship, to evaluate the interoperability of the Camcopter with the ship, its ability to takeoff and recover on the ship’s flight deck, its noise level, as well as other operational parameters.

The San Giusto is the first Italian Navy ship to employ the Camcopter S-100 during the week-long evaluation cruise which involves technical engineers from Schiebel, pilots from the 4° GrupElicot (Heli Group) from Maristaeli Grottaglie as well as personnel from Centro Sperimentazione Aeromarittimo (CSA – Air-Land Test Center) based at Luni.

S-100 ground control station

Image credit: Marina Militare / Italian Navy

 

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U.S. Global Hawk UAS flew from Italy to Norway during largest ever test of NATO’s intelligence capabilities

Huge Global Hawk Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) flew from Italy to Norway, during NATO trial dubbed Unified Vision 2014.

A U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk, flew from its base at Sigonella, Italy, to Norway, as part of Exercise Unified Vision 2014.

The RPV, flew from the airbase in southeastern Sicily, in the Mediterranean (from where the huge drone conduct daily missions over Africa), to Northern European countries, including Norway, to showcase the capability of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system to route one of its planned five Global Hawks across the busy European airspace.

Indeed, one of the goals of UV 2014 was to prepare the introduction of the AGS capability and to improve data sharing with other ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) systems provided by various NATO and partner nations.

The Global Hawk flew to Norway, cruising at more than 50,000 feet, well above commercial airliners testing the effectiveness of existing ATC procedures to ensure seamless integration of High Altitude Long Endurance UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) within the existing aviation framework.

During the drills, the RQ-4 crossed UK airspace for the first time.

Taking place from May 19 to 29, UV14 saw the participation personnel from 18 NATO nations and three partner nations; 2,000 people attended the exercise that tripled its size since the edition held in 2012.

The drills gave participating arms the opportunity to test their latest ISR equipment and enhance their ability to use, fuse and share data gathered by national and allied assets in a scenario tailored on most recent operational experiences (especially ISAF operation in Afghanistan).

What makes this kind of exercise particularly useful is the fact that they are quite realistic: surface-to-air missile systems are turned on and active GPS jamming is admitted; something almost impossible to do in most parts of the world, because of the interferences with commercial aviation.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

 

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