Army special operations want multi-intelligence UAVs

By, Jen Judson, Defense News

WASHINGTON — Army aviation special operators want new unmanned aircraft systems that can carry multiple sensors to collect vital intelligence from the battlefield and they’re working with the Army to achieve the capability, Brig. Gen. Erik Peterson, the Army Special Operations Aviation Command commander, said Thursday.

Peterson, speaking at the Association of the US Army’s aviation symposium in Arlington, Virginia, described the state of the fleet of special operations UAS as a “dog breakfast” of more than 300 air vehicles beyond the standard Army UAS.

Organic to the command is one company of MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS platoons. Gray Eagle is the largest Army unmanned system in the fleet. These special operations platoons of four UAS each are and will be continuously deployed until at least fiscal year 2017.

Then special operations has smaller UAS such as the Raven, which is an Army program of record, but it also has several non-programs of record systems quickly procured in response to joint urgent operational needs statements and other various requests.

Listed on a slide shown during Peterson’s presentation, Army special operations has oversight of 12 Gray Eagles, 32 Shadows, 224 Ravens, seven Pumas, 15 Arrowlites, 40 Instant Eyes, two Silver Foxes and one Maveric. The last four UAS are not Army programs of record.

The UAS are “very valuable,” Peterson said, “but obviously present challenges when they are not programs of record.”

Given the petting zoo of UAS that Army special operators are using, a multi-intelligence UAS would be ideal in the future; one UAS carrying multiple kinds of sensors with different capabilities.

Special operators “need a true multi-int capability in group IV systems and we are working with both the Army and Special Operations Command to achieve that capability,” Peterson said. Group IV UAS consist of larger UAS like the Gray Eagle. On another presentation slide, the desire for multi-intelligence UAS extends to the smaller Group III category in which Shadow UAS fit as well.

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Courtesy C4ISR & Networks

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US Army Chief looks for VTOL UAS for the future US Army requirement.

In his conference remarks, Lundy said that when the Army does buy or develop new drones, a key requirement should be the ability to take off and land without a runway.CAMCOPTER S-100

“I don’t want to be on runways anymore” Lundy said. A future drone in the same class as the Gray Eagle, he said, “needs to have a VTOL capability. We’ve got to be able to push it forward with units. It can’t be sitting at an airfield four hours away.” He also listed two other key requirements: “It’s got to be survivable, so we’ve go to reduce the signature. And we’ve got to reduce how many people it takes to run it.” A future Gray Eagle replacement, he added, would need to carry similar payloads and have similar range. “I’m not real concerned about the speed,” Lundy said. “Those are the key requirements – both for our large UAS and for our tactical.”

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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.

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

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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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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

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