Mako unmanned wingman “cleared for takeoff” — and lots of sales!


❝ Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has been granted approval by the US government to market its UTAP-22 Mako ‘unmanned wingman’ internationally…

The US State Department has permitted the San Diego-based company to promote its Mako jet-powered unmanned aircraft system to certain undisclosed European and Asia-Pacific region countries.

❝ …The Mako offers fighter-like performance and is designed to function as a wingman to manned aircraft, as a force multiplier in contested airspace, or to be deployed independently or in groups of UASs. It is capable of carrying both weapons and sensor systems.

It will obey all orders. No educated, independent thought allowed.

Earlier post:

Testing the Navy’s unmanned sub chaser

❝ The 132-foot-long unmanned and unarmed prototype, dubbed Sea Hunter, is the naval equivalent of Google’s self-driving car, designed to cruise on the ocean’s surface for two or three months at a time – without a crew or anyone controlling it remotely.

❝ The Pentagon’s new unmanned submarine chaser is currently undergoing at-sea testing off the coast of California…The prototype vessel, known as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) or Sea Hunter for short, is built to track enemy submarines over thousands of miles of ocean for months at a time and without a single crew member on board.

❝ In the video below, the ACTUV is actually testing its Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) system, which could be towed behind boats or ships carry out intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and communications ops by extending the equipment range compared to a ship’s mast.

❝ DARPA signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Office of Naval Research in September 2014 to jointly fund an extended test phase of an ACTUV prototype. The vessel was christened in 2016 in Portland, Oregon. Pending the results of those tests, the program could transition to the Navy by 2018.

To be followed by a Marvel movie released in the summer of 2019.

Test Sites chosen for civilian, private use of drones

The U.S. approved drone test centers in six states, including New York, as the start of research efforts to eventually allow civilian unmanned aircraft widespread access to the nation’s airways.

The Federal Aviation Administration, after sifting through 25 applicants, also approved bids from Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia…

The selection is one of the first U.S. regulatory moves to begin integrating unmanned aircraft with piloted planes and helicopters as companies including…push to develop commercial drones…

The test sites will be used to help the FAA develop certification standards for unmanned aircraft and how they can be operated within the air-traffic system, according to the law requiring the sites…

The winners were the University of Alaska, which also has test sites located in Hawaii and Oregon; the state of Nevada; Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York, which also plans to use a facility in Massachusetts; the North Dakota Department of Commerce; Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute, in Blacksburg, which will also conduct testing in New Jersey.

The first site will become operational within 180 days and will operate at least through 2017, Huerta said.

In response to concerns that drones put people’s privacy at risk, the FAA will require test-site operators to maintain records of devices flying at the facility, create a written plan for how data collected by airborne vehicles will be used and retained, and conduct a yearly privacy review.

Facilities must also adhere to all privacy laws that may apply to drone use, such as restrictions on law enforcement to obtain search warrants, according to the FAA’s privacy policy.

And we all know how thoroughly the federal government guarantees privacy laws. Right?

Colorado town considering drone hunting licenses

Click to enlarge

The farming and ranching town of Deer Trail, Colorado, which boasts that it held the world’s first rodeo in 1869, is now considering starting a 21st century tradition – paying bounties to anyone who shoots down an unmanned drone.

Next month, trustees of the town of 600 that lies on the high plains 55 miles east of Denver will debate an ordinance that would allow residents to purchase a $25 hunting license to shoot down “unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Similar to the bounties governments once paid to hunters who killed animals that preyed on livestock, but only after they produced the ears, the town would pay $100 to anyone who can produce the fuselage and tail of a downed drone.

“Either the nose or tail may be damaged, but not both,” the proposal notes.

The measure was crafted by resident Phillip Steel, a 48-year-old Army veteran with a master’s degree in business administration, who acknowledges the whimsical nature of his proposal…

“We don’t want to become a surveillance society,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

He said he has not seen any drones, but that “some local ranchers” outside the town limits have seen them.

Under the proposal, hunters could legally shoot down a drone flying under 1,000 feet with a 12-gauge or smaller shotgun.

The town also would be required to establish a drone “recognition program” for shooters to properly identify the targeted aircraft…

The Feds haven’t commented, yet. No doubt the NRA, Republicans and the Tea Party will campaign for the proposal.

X-47B unmanned aircraft makes historic first carrier landing

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator put another page in the history books on Wednesday with its first unmanned arrested-wire carrier landing. The drone flew 35 minutes from Patuxent River Naval Air Station to the carrier USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, where is landed at about 167 mph with an arresting wire catching its tail hook and bringing it to a stop in 350 ft..

This test marks the culmination of ten years of research by the Navy and Northrop Grumman to produce a prototype unmanned combat vehicle for the US Navy. Previously, the X-47B completed deck operations aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in December and the first UAV catapult launch in May…

“We have been using the same [carrier] landing technology for more than 50 years now and the idea that we can take a large UAV and operate in that environment is fascinating,” says Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy program manager. “When I think about all of the hours and all of the work-ups the team put into executing this event, I had no doubt the air vehicle was going to do exactly what it was supposed to do.”

After the initial landing, the X-47B was launched again from the carrier by catapult and did another arrested landing…

I know, I know. It’s a shame the military gets to do all this fascinating research.

When you live in the belly of the beast that is the last dedicated imperial superpower – to some extent – you grow accustomed to the rules of the game. Death and destruction trumps all other motivations. They get the dollars even without a requisition. The military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned against has ruled the United States for decades.

Unmanned drone technology for mining trucks in Australia

The largest iron-ore mine in Australia will take a leap in efficiency starting next April: 10 automated trucks, one remote driver.

With demand from China and other steel-hungry industrializing economies rising, the massive trucks—programmed to haul ore and waste around the pit using the global positioning system—are part of a push by Rio Tinto PLC to to adopt automated technology to cut costs and ramp up production even in the face of a labor shortage.

Traveling precise routes around Yandicoogina mine and operating 24 hours a day, the trucks will be under the supervision of a single worker in a portable office at the mine, backed up by a control center in Perth that oversees all of the company’s 14 mines, as well as its rail lines and ports, in the distant Pilbara region of Australia’s northwest.

Rio Tinto, which last year said it didn’t have enough truck drivers, drillers or locomotive drivers, is alone among the major iron-ore producers in the Pilbara to adopt the experimental technology. But the Anglo-Australian company says it is confident the autonomous trucks, trains and drill rigs it is testing are creating efficiencies and helping it meet aggressive output targets.

Rio Tinto has been giving the automated trucks a trial at another mine, West Angelas, since late 2008, using five of them to haul waste. It said Wednesday it plans to double its fleet and deploy the trucks to Yandicoogina, where they will carry not just waste but the valuable ore.

“There’s nothing weirder than seeing one of these giant trucks with no driver in it,” said Karen Halbert, a spokeswoman for the company. “They even honk their horn before they back up.”

Continue reading

Mexico confirms U.S. drones in flyovers against drug gangs

Mexico has admitted that American unmanned drones operate over its territory, but denied that it constitutes a violation of its sovereignty.

Har. Send a copy of that memo to Pakistan!

U.S. Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles have been used to collect intelligence and track drug traffickers, but only under Mexican supervision, according to a statement by the technical secretariat for the Mexican National Security Council.

Each of these actions is undertaken with full respect to the law,” the statement says…

The flights had been kept secret “because of legal restrictions in Mexico and the heated political sensitivities there about sovereignty,” The New York Times reported.

1. So what changed?

2. When will the joint committee supervising the flights ask that they be armed with missiles?

‘Eternal plane’ lands in Yuma, Arizona

The UK-built Zephyr unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has confirmed its place in aviation history as the first “eternal plane”.

The solar-powered craft completed two weeks of non-stop flight above a US Army range in Arizona before being commanded to make a landing.

The Qinetiq company which developed Zephyr said the UAV had nothing to prove by staying in the air any longer.

It had already smashed all endurance records for an unpiloted vehicle before it touched down at 1504 BST (0704 local) on Friday…

Zephyr took off from the Yuma Proving Ground at 1440 BST (0640 local time) on Friday, 9 July.

After only 31 hours in the air, it had bettered the official world record for a long-duration flight by a drone; but then it kept on going, unencumbered by the need to take on the liquid fuel that sustains traditional aircraft.

Clear skies at 60,000ft delivered copious amounts of sunshine to its amorphous silicon solar arrays, charging its lithium-sulphur batteries and keeping its two propellers turning.

At night, Zephyr lost some altitude but the energy stored in the batteries was more than sufficient to maintain the plane in the air.

Zephyr is set to be credited with a new world endurance record (336 hours, 24 minutes) for an unmanned, un-refuelled aircraft – provided a representative of the world air sports federation, who was present at Yuma, is satisfied its rules have been followed properly.

One more step in a lot of right directions.

Unmanned combat plane prototype

The Ministry of Defence has unveiled its prototype unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV)…

Defence Minister Gerald Howarth said it was a “truly trailblazing project” and featured “the best of our nation’s advanced design and technology”. The aircraft is due to begin flight trials early next year.

Named after the Celtic god of thunder, Taranis is the first step in the development of unmanned strike aircraft, capable of penetrating enemy territory. Unmanned aircraft carrying weapons are already used in service, such as the MQ-1 Predator which carries Hellfire missiles, although these are only suitable for use where the airspace is under allied control.

This is the next generation of combat aircraft and flight trials will begin next year,” Sqn Ldr Bruno Wood told BBC News. “It’s a technology demonstrator that could be used as a testbed which may form further potential solutions to the RAF,” he added.

The issue of “writing the pilot” out of the aircraft equation has long been a controversial topic, more so since the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) went into active service…

Peter Felstead, editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, told BBC News that the development of UAVs paralleled the development of the first manned aircraft during World War I.

“First they were used for reconnaissance, then they were armed for bombing and ground attack missions and they eventually became air-to-air combat craft,” he said.

“This is the first step for the UK. This isn’t an aircraft that will go into service, it’s a tech demo, but it will prove technologies, demonstrate capabilities and inform the direction we [the UK] are going in.”

They might have called it the Terminator, eh? We know how they turned out.

Wonder what DARPA is doing down this alley?

NASA’s Global Hawk completes first scheduled science flight

NASA pilots and flight engineers, together with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have successfully completed the first science flight of the Global Hawk unpiloted aircraft system over the Pacific Ocean. The flight was the first of five scheduled for this month’s Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) mission to study atmospheric science over the Pacific and Arctic oceans.

The Global Hawk is a robotic plane that can fly autonomously to altitudes above 60,000 feet — roughly twice as high as a commercial airliner — and as far as 11,000 nautical miles — half the circumference of Earth. Operators pre-program a flight path, and then the plane flies itself for as long as 30 hours, staying in contact through satellite and line-of-site communications to the ground control station at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California’s Mojave Desert.

“The Global Hawk is a revolutionary aircraft for science because of its enormous range and endurance,” said Paul Newman, co-mission scientist for GloPac and an atmospheric scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “No other science platform provides this much range and time to sample rapidly evolving atmospheric phenomena. This mission is our first opportunity to demonstrate the unique capabilities of this plane, while gathering atmospheric data in a region that is poorly sampled.”

GloPac researchers will directly measure and sample greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting substances, aerosols, and constituents of air quality in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere…

The aircraft can then take off, fly its mission, and land without any additional pilot or scientist intervention. Though the plane is designed to fly on its own, pilots can change course or altitude based on the atmospheric phenomena ahead. Researchers also have the ability to command and control their instruments from the ground.

Truly an advancement. Saving on weight and life support for a pilot and/or crew alone is worth an enormous increase in range and duration of research flights.

RTFA for lots more detail – and direction of research.