US Air Force Proposes $3-billion RPAS Expansion Plan

The US Air Force wants to vastly expand its drone program over the next five years by doubling the number of pilots and deploying them to bases in California and elsewhere to give commanders better intelligence and more firepower.

The $3-billion plan, which must be approved by Congress, was unveiled Thursday after months of study that focused on a drone pilot force that commanders have described as overworked, undermanned and under appreciated.

The proposed expansion comes as the Pentagon has intensified airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. Pilots and crews who operate the MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers have struggled to meet a rising demand for aerial surveillance of war zones and other hot spots.

“Right now, 100% of the time, when a MQ-1 or MQ-9 crew goes in, all they do is combat,” said Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, which oversees drone operations. “So we really have to build the capacity.”

United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr. - http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/070313-F-0782R-115.jpg
First MQ-9 arriving at Creech AFB, March 2007. Source US Air Force.

The Air Force wants to add 75 Reapers to the current fleet of 175 Reapers and 150 Predators. It also would increase the number of flying squadrons from eight to as many as 17, and add up to 3,500 new pilots, sensor operators and other personnel.

Officials said they anticipate sending most of the new drone pilots and crews to bases across the country.

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Courtesy UAS Vision

 

 

 

 

PrecisionHawk, Verizon, Harris and DigitalGlobe Demo Solution to Enhance UAS Safety

PrecisionHawk, Harris, DigitalGlobe and Verizon recently completed initial testing of airspace services, a solution designed to make it safer to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the National Airspace.

The companies integrated various technologies for this solution, including Verizon’s LTE network, Harris’ ADS-B network, DigitalGlobe’s Geospatial Big Data Platform and PrecisionHawk’s LATAS (Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety) platform, according to a news release. Assessment of this ecosystem is taking place through the FAA Pathfinder program and the NASA UTM project.

“We are leveraging satellite-derived information to create consistent information and analytics for safe drone flights,” said Dr. Shay Har-Noy, DigitalGlobe’s Senior Director of Geospatial Big Data, according to the release. “This is a significant collaboration that represents a huge step forward for the FAA and the safety and well-being of the American public.”

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LTE networks potentially can allow UAS to deliver sensor data for processing, analysis and decision making mid-flight, as well as receive command-and-control inputs in real time, said David Famolari, Director, Verizon Ventures, according to the release. This helps to make the airspace safer for both manned and unmanned aircraft.

PrecisionHawk’s LATAS platform operates over LTE and through satellites, according to the release, and connects airspace safety technologies such as dynamic geofencing, detect and avoid and aircraft tracking, providing safety as a service for the UAS industry. By using the existing infrastructure of Verizon cell towers, LATAS is scalable for UAS operating throughout the U.S.

LATAS will use DigitalGlobe’s Geospatial Big Data Platform to enable UAS to identify and avoid obstacles, including buildings and cable lines, according to the release.

The Nationwide Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) ground station deployment by Harris is the cornerstone of the FAA’s NextGen surveillance initiative, according to the release, which is designed to improve the quality, accuracy and reliability of flight tracking data throughout the National Airspace System. The data is a synthesis of all FAA system derived aircraft surveillance data available in the U.S. National Airspace System.

This collaboration between PrecisionHawk, Verizon, DigitalGlobe, and Harris can provide the industry with an integrated, complete solution to safely manage UAS traffic, according to the release. The companies will continue to test this ecosystem and bring on other partners to further expand its capabilities.

“With this collaboration, the innovation of the tech community is addressing the timely need for a safety services to accelerate drone integration,” said Tyler Collins, Director of LATAS at PrecisionHawk, according to the release. “Verizon, Harris and DigitalGlobe bring technology components, expertise and credibility that are critical to the success of this ecosystem. We look forward to expanding testing through the FAA Pathfinder and NASA UTM programs in 2015.”

Courtesy: Inside Unmanned Systems

PRECISIONHAWK JOINS THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND FAA IN THE CREATION OF A SAFETY TASK FORCE FOR UAS

The task force will collaborate on the development of a streamlined registration process for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

PrecisionHawk today announced its contribution to a safety task force created by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA. The task force brings together a diverse group, representing the UAS and manned aviation industries, the federal government, and other stakeholders, to develop an augmented registration process for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

PrecisionHawk is working on many safety solutions, procedural and technological, that we believe can contribute to safer operations for commercial drones in the national airspace,” said Ernest Earon, PrecisionHawk CTO and co-founder. “The creation of this task force further demonstrates the willingness of the FAA to move forward with industry leaders to promote rapid and safe integration.”

“As a UAS technology company and operator, we know how important coordinated identification is to the environments in which we work,” said Thomas Haun, VP of Strategy at PrecisionHawk. “The goal of this task force, to create a streamlined registration process for UAS, will have a direct and positive impact on the operations of our partners and service teams.”

This task force presents another opportunity for PrecisionHawk to serve as a technical resource to regulators as we move towards the adoption of UAV regulations. Earlier this year PrecisionHawk was also named, alongside CNN and BNSF, to the FAA Pathfinder Program to test and develop technology solutions to solve beyond line of sight operations.

Source: Media Release

US Announces the Upcoming Federal Drone Registry: Register or Face ‘Consequences’

Published on October 19, 2015 by Michael Zhang

The Obama administration announced today that it will be creating the first ever federal drone registry to reign in the wild wild west of drone usage. Drone owners will be required to register their drones with the database in order to fly legally, and those caught flying unregistered drones will face “consequences.”

Reuters reports that at a press conference, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx revealed that the administration is putting together a task force consisting of industry and government representatives. The group will be tasked with putting together a set of recommendations for the drone registry.

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Courtesy Petapixel

FAA to Require Recreational Drone Operators to Register – Will CASA or EASA Follow?

US Federal regulators announced Monday that recreational drone operators will be required to register their aircraft.

“There can be no accountability if the person breaking the rules can’t be identified,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a news conference.

A task force of more than two dozen people will be responsible for creating guidelines for the national registry by Nov. 20, with the goal of instilling the program before the end of the holiday season, when around 1 million drones are expected to be sold.

The increased number of recreational drones worries FAA officials and pilots, who have reported seeing twice the number of unmanned aircraft while flying this year than they did during all of 2014. A spate of high-profile incidents — including drones’ crashing into the stands at the U.S. Open tennis tournament and interfering with firefighting efforts in California — has increased pressure to regulate the use of unmanned aircraft.

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Courtesy NBC News

Other articles: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Announces Unmanned Aircraft Registration Requirement 

LOW ALTITUDE TRAFFIC AND AIRSPACE SAFETY – LATAS

The LATAS platform provides ‘safety as a service’ to support the growing number of consumer and enterprise drones in the airspace.

LATAS is designed to work everywhere… connecting your drone over the cellular network and through satellites with one hundred percent reliability.

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Each operator has advanced situational awareness with Real-time tracking, Identification of ground and air obstacles and hazard notifications.

Visit flylatas.com

US Defense Dept wants Cargo Drones for the Pacific

Promoting the development of cargo drones will be the focus of next year’s operational energy capability improvement fund, according to a Defense Department official.

“The [fiscal year 2016] theme for OECIF is unmanned aerial vehicles,” said Steve Mapes, deputy director for expeditionary operations in the office of the assistant secretary of defense for energy plans and programs. “What we’re talking about is unmanned aerial vehicles for resupply.”OECIF provides seed money to programs that could potentially improve the energy usage of deployed forces or deliver long-term cost savings.

By using UAVs to transport cargo “you can take those trucks [that would normally have to be used to transport supplies] off the road or you can navigate or circumvent bodies of water without having to send actual forces or troops or ships” to deliver materiel, Mapes said Aug. 25 at a National Defense Industrial Association power conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

OECIF investments in 2016 would be “targeted specially toward the Pacific,” which presents unique logistical hurdles because of its vast size, Mapes said.

“Tyranny of distance right now is hands down one of the most challenging things we have to deal with, particularly in the [U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility],” he said. “We rely heavily on host nation agreements. We rely heavily on our joint partners to move equipment and assets from point A to point B. But one of our major defense challenges is just distance.”

As a solution, he envisioned launching supply drones off ships. “We’re talking cargo aircraft that can navigate from a ship-based platform [and] … allow us to navigate that distance without bringing that ship right up to the coast,” he said.

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Courtesy UASVision

UK-Singapore Collaboration Prepares for Record 300km Hydrogen Fuel Cell UAV Flight

A new civilian fuel cell UAV designed for search and rescue is gearing up for the world’s first ever 300km UAV flight to cross the North Sea, linking Scotland to Norway

Set to take off within days, this historic flight is the result of a joint effort between UAV fuel cell power systems supplier Horizon Energy Systems (HES) of Singapore, and Scottish UAV developer RaptorUAS. The team is working with Northern Colorado Search and Rescue in the US, as a first end-user of the long endurance UAV system.

The Singapore-built fuel cell is able to keep the Raptor E1 UAV flying for over 12 hours, which makes it an ideal support tool in difficult search and rescue operations over large areas of sea or land. Recognized as the world’s longest endurance energy storage systems for electrical UAVs, fuel cells from HES have helped set new world records in the past including the NASA-backed 5kg Pterosoar UAVsystem which flew 128km in 2007.

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Courtesy: SUAS News