Category Archives: Drones

Europe’s new stealth combat drone has successfully completed 12 highly sensitive test sorties in Italy

The nEUROn has conducted 12 highly sensitive sorties to verify the characteristics of radar-cross section and infrared signature in Italy.

The first example of the nEUROn UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) has successfully completed its flight test campaign in the Perdasdefogu range, Sardinia, Italy.

The nEUROn is a full-scale technological demonstrator for a UCAV developed by an industrial team led by Dassault Aviation with the collaboration of Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, Saab, Airbus Defence and Space, RUAG and HAI representing France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece that rolled out on Jan. 20, 2012, after five years of design, development, and static testing.

The shape of the nEUROn reminds that of the American X-47B (even though, from a certain angle it also shows a certain resemblance to the F-117 Nighthawk...).

During the deployment at Italian Air Force’s Decimomannu airbase, the stealth killer drone demonstrator flew 12 highly sensitive sorties to assess its low radar-cross section and low infrared signature, during missions flown at different altitudes and flight profiles and against both ground-based and air radar “threats”, using in this latter case, a Eurofighter Typhoon.

The next testing phase will see the European UCAV deploy to Vidsel Air Base, in Sweden, for more low observability tests and some live firing activity needed to validate the capability of the nEUROn to use weapons carried in the internal weapons bay.

 

Poland establishes a UAV-dedicated airbase

Poland’s Ministry of Defense, in the light of the wide scope of UAV procurement programmes, decided to create a dedicated airbase for the unmanned systems. A base currently used by the Polish Air Force Su-22 jets.

Mirosławiec airfield, a base currently hosting Polish Su-22 Fitter attack planes, has been chosen to became a UAV base.

The airbase, which is going to be referred to as the 12th Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Base, will begin its operations, starting from January 2016.

The Polish Army has six UAV procurement programs, the aim of which is to bridge the capability gap detected during the deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, conducted throughout the first decade of the 21st Century.

So far, the Polish UAV arsenal has been quite modest, since it only features some mini-class tactical systems utilized by the Nil Special forces units. During the Afghan deployment, Polish Army also rented the ScanEagle systems from the Americans.

Polish UAV programs aim at procurement of the following systems:

• Zefir – MALE UCAV, with high level of autonomy – 12 vehicles are going to be acquired within the scope of this program;
• Gryf – Tactical MALE recce UAV – 12 examples to be acquired;
• Orlik – tactical short range UAV – 12 packages with 3 to 5 platforms in each are going to be procured;
• Wizjer – mini-UAV, similar to the WB Electronics FlyEye – 15 packages with 4-5 UAVs in each package are going to be purchased;
• Ważka – VTOL mini UAV program – need of acquiring 15 UAVs of this type has been expressed;
• Micro-UAV – the smallest VTOL UAV which is going to be used by the special forces’ assault teams in order to increase their situational awareness.

Mirosławiec base is going to be equipped with the above-mentioned Gryf, Orlik and Zefir UAVs.

According to the reports published by a variety of the Polish defense media outlets, the facility will be reconstructed to receive new infrastructure needed to store the UAV systems and the armament.

When it comes to the UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) systems, British, Israeli and US offers have been submitted. 60 UCAVs are going to be stationed at the facility – 48 tactical ones and 12 heavy Zefir UCAVs.

According to the information released by tvn24 at the end of June, the tender is going to be won by the contractor who is going to provide Poland with a relevant transfer of technology.

Image Credit: Google Maps

Satellite caught a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone on the ground at Creech AFB

One of our readers has spotted something interesting in a satellite image

Although Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) have operated from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, for a long time, and some blurred videos and images are available on the Internet, you don’t easily find a satellite photo showing one of these stealthy drones, anywhere on the web.

That’s why the sat image we are talking about is particularly interesting.

Available on Terraserver website, it shows a “Beast of Kandahar” (as the RQ-170 was dubbed after being spotted for the first time at the U.S. airbase in Afghanistan) parked just in front of a shelter at Creech (click here for the sat image).

The date of the imagery is: Feb. 2, 2012.

The drone sits close to a Reaper drone and the proximity helps comparing the size of the two unmanned aircraft.

The RQ-170 is one of the most famous U.S. Air Force (and CIA) UAS.

Last year, Iran unveiled a copy of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drone allegedly manufactured by reverse-engineering of U.S. Sentinel drone captured in December 2011 while remotely operated from Creech AFB.

The Iranian version of the Sentinel drone was displayed next to the one that crash landed in northeastern Iran about three years ago. Suspicious footage allegedly showing the copycat Sentinel flying in Iran can be found here.

Image credit: Terraserver

H/T to Joshua Nyhus for the heads up.

 

New images of Europe’s stealth combat drone nEUROn during operational testing

The nEUROn stealth combat drone as seen from a different point of view.

The first example of the nEUROn UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), is conducting operational testing in the Perdasdefogu range, in Sardinia.

The photos in this article were taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Caglieri as the full-scale technology demonstrator returned to Decimomannu airbase at the end of a test flight.

Noteworthy, these were shot from the left hand side of the drone with the extracted undercarriage, and they clearly show the text XAV-5A-003 on the landing gear door along with the flags of the nations that are taking part in the development of the nEUROn France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece.

After completing the testing campaign in Italy, the nEUROn will move to Visdel, Sweden, for weapons trials.

nEUROn left side top

Image credit: Alessandro Caglieri

 

Video of the X-47B drone first autonomous aerial refueling

Someone said we are one step closer to Skynet..

On Apr. 16, one of the two Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft of the X-47B program performed the first autonomous drone air-to-air refueling (AAR) test taking fuel from an Omega Air KC-707 tanker.

Here is the video of the UCAS-D pluggin the retractable IFR (In-Flight Refueling) probe in the tanker hose basket.

The two X-47B technology demonstrators will be retired and probably donated to a museum or stored at the “boneyard”, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, after these aerial refueling tests: Navy stealth killer drones are “just” a technology demonstrator, a testbed for the future planned Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS).