Russia’s MoD has just released a video showing a Sukhoi (Su-30SM) more or less “intercepting” a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone over Syria.
Although Russia and the US have agreed on coordinating their air activity in the skies over Syria, several close encounters between Sukhois and American jets and drones have occurred in the past weeks: as already reported Russian jets deployed to Latakia, tailed U.S. Predator drones on at least three separate occasions during the first week of the RuAF air campaign.
The Turkish Air Force has shot down an unidentified UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) over the Syria-Turkey border.
Turkish Air Force jets, most probably F-16s flying CAPs (Combat Air Patrols) along the Syria-Turkey border shot down an unidentified drone that had violated the Turkish airspace earlier today.
According to the information made available so far, the Turkish combat planes issued three warnings to the (unmanned) aircraft before shooting it down. Although this may seem a bit odd in this case, as the one shot down was a really small model (resembling a Russian-made Orlan 10) larger UAS (Unmanned Air Systems), controlled by a Ground Control Station usually have radios to talk with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) stations: for instance, the famous U.S. Predator and Global Hawk drones have U/VHF radios that pilots operating from the inside GCS use to talk with the air traffic control agencies along the route.
Therefore, Turkish jets may have radioed three warnings to the drone, in spite of its size, because the current RoE (Rules Of Engagement) require them to do so when intercepting an unidentified, manned or unmanned aircraft
Following these border skirmishes, the Turkish F-16s began responding to “MiG” radar locks by performing lock-ons on the aircraft “harassing” them. However, it’s quite likely considered the type of target, that the drone shot down today was hit with a gun strafe instead of a missile.
U.S. Predator drones “intercepted” by Russia’s jets, U.S. fighters rerouted for deconfliction: the airspace over Syria is becoming increasingly dangerous.
As already explained in our article about the close encounter between a flight of U.S. F-16s and one of Russian Air Force Su-34s, which came within 20 miles each other over northwestern Syria, according to Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, commander of the American air campaign in Iraq and Syria, the Russians have come even closer than that to American drones flying in the same areas.
Indeed, if you look at the screenshot published here you’ll easily find the track of some unmanned aerial vehicles (in green color) operating along the border between Turkey and Syria: until a real coordination is put into place between U.S. and Russia, there is some risk of jets and UAVs from both parties interfering with one another.
So, it’s not really surprising what Fox News unveiled today: Russian jets deployed to Latakia, Syria, shadowed U.S. Predator drones on at least three separate occasions since the start of Russia’s air campaign last week.
According to defense officials who talked to Fox News, the RuAF jets have (quite obviously) not attempted to shoot down the drones but flew “intercept tracks” to get closer to and shadow the unmanned aircraft.
It would be nice to know whether the Russians briefly used their own radars (exposing valuable data about the way their antennas work to ESM platform operating in the same area) to spot the Predators or just got in visual contact with them and maneuvered to “intercept” the drones.
Mid-air with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for a Polish F-16.
According to the reports published by several Polish media outlets, on Sept. 15 a Polish Air Force F-16 fighter stationed at Krzesiny Airbase, near Poznan, collided with a small drone.
The mid-air impact, whose evidence was discovered by ground crews during the post-flight checks, exposed damages to the airframe protective coating and to the fuel tank.
The official version of the incident, given by major Dariusz Rojewski of the Krzesiny AB, is that the jet collided with an unknown aerial vehicle; damage assessment highlighted that the overlay of the Viper‘s fuselage and fuel tank (probably the CFT) were damaged. The Air Force refused to provide any further information.
With free, unregulated access to the UAV systems, incidents like this can happen. The Polish legislation assumes that the drone operator is always responsible for the flights conducted by the UAV.
Uncontrolled, unauthorized flights in no-fly zones around airfields are punished.
According to the Polish Aviation Law Act and the Polish Civil Aviation Authority, a person charged with causing an aviation incident may be sanctioned with 12 years of imprisonment, while sole flight inside the controlled airspace of an airfield, may face 5 years of imprisonment.
Polish media outlet Głos Wielkopolski notes that the only areas where drone are allowed to fly around Poznan include the Morasko, Suchy Las, Lubon and Komorniki regions, all of those are located far away from the Ławica (EPPO) and Krzesiny (EPKS) airfields.
As a consequence, any drone-related activity in Poznan is banned, even in the areas that are relatively safe, as Mikołaj Karpinski of the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) told in an interview for Głos Wielkopolski.
Any legal drone operation would require an authorization from PANSA , and this authorization must be obtained at least five days ahead of the planned flight.
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.
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.