US military test flight: Zephyr solar glider crashed

Airbus‘ high-flying drone has crashed in the desert just hours before setting a record for the longest flight ever recorded by an aircraft.

The Zephyr solar-powered drone has crashed over the Arizona desert after a long-distance flight of 64 days. On tracking websites, the glider’s route suddenly became invisible on Friday 19 August and did not reappear as it usually does. According to the US magazine Simple Flying, the data shows a vertical rate of descent increasing rapidly and racing to the ground at speeds of up to 83 kilometres per hour.

An Airbus Defense representative reportedly confirmed the loss to Simple Flying, but did not speak of a crash. According to the statement, there were „circumstances that ended its current flight“. No persons were harmed. „US military test flight: Zephyr solar glider crashed“ weiterlesen

Secret aerial surveillance: What does an hour’s flight with a Frontex drone cost?

With a new regulation, the EU border agency has set up its own aerial surveillance with aircraft. With the arrival of drones, migration control with the „Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance“ has become much more effective, but presumably also more expensive.

For more than a year, the EU border agency has stationed an Israeli Heron 1 long-range drone in Malta, and another drone now patrols the airspace around the Greek island of Crete. Frontex, however, does not want to disclose how much money a flight hour costs. Thus, it cannot be compared whether the drones are more expensive than manned aircraft on behalf of Frontex, as suspected.

With a new regulation, Frontex received permission in 2016 to purchase its own equipment. Immediately, the agency began leasing charter aircraft for aerial surveillance as part of a „Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance“ (MAS). This made Frontex independent of borrowing planes and helicopters, which previously had to be requested from EU Member States in the framework of Agency missions. „Secret aerial surveillance: What does an hour’s flight with a Frontex drone cost?“ weiterlesen

Airbus‘ „Zephyr“: Stratospheric drone beats own record

Airbus‘ unmanned glider has been flying for 42 days without landing; no aircraft has been in the air without refueling for such a long time. As a flying Internet node, the drone could replace 250 cell towers. But there is interest mainly from the military.

The „Zephyr“ solar glider breaks more records during a test flight. Launched on June 15, the drone has now been in the air for 42 days, far surpassing the mark of 26 days set in 2018. As then, the test is taking place over a U.S. Army compound in Yuma, the Arizona city considered the sunniest in the world. In theory, the unmanned aircraft can fly continuously for months without maintenance.

With the tests, Airbus and the military want to test the durability of the drone, its electric motors  and its satellite communications. The flights involve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance units from the military and various combat commands. „Airbus‘ „Zephyr“: Stratospheric drone beats own record“ weiterlesen

Following airplanes and drones: Frontex wants helicopters for border surveillance

The EU border agency wants to repeat a failed tender to procure rotary-wing aircraft. These could be used in areas where there is a lack of runways. The scenarios fit a Greek border river where many dead bodies wash up.

The European border agency Frontex is sticking to plans to add helicopters to its fleet of aircraft. A failed tender is to be made up this year, and procurement could then take place next year. This is what the new Frontex director Aija Kalnaja writes in her answer to a parliamentary question by MEP Özlem Demirel. Accordingly, the rotorcraft are to fly in operational areas where there is a lack of suitable landing sites for aircraft and drones.

Frontex had already targeted a three-million-euro framework contract for helicopter services across Europe two years ago. The helicopters were part of a tender for long- and medium-range flights with manned aircraft, on which Frontex planned to spend another €100 million. They were to be used in land and sea operations, Frontex wrote, „even if they are more oriented on the land domain.“ „Following airplanes and drones: Frontex wants helicopters for border surveillance“ weiterlesen

German Armed Forces: SARah-1 spy satellite launches with SpaceX

The German military’s Earth observation program costs around €800 million. The foreign secret service also uses it, but is getting its own spy system under the name Georg.

On Saturday, the Bundeswehr plans to bring its first new SARah series spy satellite into space. The launch, which can be watched live, will take place from Vandenberg Rocket Base in California and is targeted for 1:30 p.m. GMT+2.

The satellite, which weighs about four tons, will be transported into space on a two-stage Falcon 9 from Elon Musk’s company SpaceX. The launch vehicle is partially reusable.

The company responsible for developing the SARah satellites is OHB System in Bremen, which was commissioned to do so by the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support in 2013. The SARah-1 was manufactured under a subcontract by Airbus in Friedrichshafen. „German Armed Forces: SARah-1 spy satellite launches with SpaceX“ weiterlesen

Third accident in three years: Hermes 900 becomes a crash drone

An Elbit drone has crashed in the Philippines. In Israel, the manufacturer received the world’s only permission to fly in civil airspace, despite similar incidents. Soon Switzerland will follow.

An unmanned aerial vehicle of the type Hermes 900 suffered total damage in an accident in the Philippines on Saturday. The crash landing occurred on approach to Lumbia Airport on Mindanao Island, apparently after communications with the drone were interrupted. It was reportedly on a test flight to test various functions.

No people or buildings are reported to have been harmed in the crash in forested terrain. The drone is now being recovered. The Philippine Air Force is investigating the cause of the incident. For the time being, all drones of the same type must remain on the ground. „Third accident in three years: Hermes 900 becomes a crash drone“ weiterlesen

Hensoldt: New German platform to be able to jam Russian air defense radars

The Bundeswehr is modernizing its electronic warfare capabilities. A new system is to be fitted to Eurofighters once it has been developed

Hensoldt, a German company specializing in sensor technology, has developed Kalaetron Attack, an electronic warfare system. Recent ground tests have proven its effectiveness in „current threat scenarios“, the German defense company writes in a press release. According to it, the platform is a „technology leap“ and could jam even the latest Russian radars.

Kalaetron Attack consists of various components to deceive, suppress and disrupt enemy capabilities in the air, on land and at sea. The same system is also said to be able to be used passively as a reconnaissance sensor. Thus, the platform might secure „freedom of movement“ in a contested electromagnetic environment, thereby increasing the effectiveness of friendly forces. „Hensoldt: New German platform to be able to jam Russian air defense radars“ weiterlesen

Mediterranean Sea: Frontex claims to have detected 13,000 refugees with drones

After in Malta, the EU border agency is now stationing a long-range drone on Crete. There is contradictory information on the surveillance technology on board.

According to its own figures, Frontex has detected at least 13,000 refugees in 300 cases with the help of long-range drones and reported them to the responsible coast guards. Since May last year, the EU border agency has stationed a Heron 1 from the Israeli arms company IAI in Malta for such missions. The drone is officially registered to the Maltese Air Force.

The contract for Frontex drones was awarded to the German branch of the Airbus Group in Bremen, which also flies four Heron 1s for the German armed forces in Mali. They are controlled from a mobile facility located at the international airport near the Maltese capital Valletta. Other Airbus technicians are responsible for maintenance and repairs there. „Mediterranean Sea: Frontex claims to have detected 13,000 refugees with drones“ weiterlesen

Frontex: Migration control from space

In EUROSUR, EU member states use various satellite services for maritime surveillance. Frontex and the Maritime Security Agency conclude cooperation agreements with the „Copernicus“ programme for this purpose.

All the information Frontex collects at the EU’s external borders is fed into the EUROSUR border surveillance system, which went into operation in 2014. From space, this data comes from the satellites of the EU’s Copernicus Earth Observation Programme, which is used for security, civil protection, environmental management and climate change research. To date, the EU has launched several optical and radar-based reconnaissance satellites for the programme. The space data are received and processed by the EU Satellite Centre (SatCen) in Torrejón, Spain, which has the status of an agency.

In the first years of its existence, Copernicus was known as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). After the European satellite navigation system „Galileo“, the European Commission described the platform as the „second flagship“ of European space policy, tailored to increased security needs. While the purpose of GMES in public was emphasised to be the monitoring of climate change and natural resources, there was rather silence about the „S“ for „security“. The first security-oriented GMES offshoots were LIMES (Land and Maritime Monitoring for Environment and Security), G-MOSAIC (GMES services for Management of Operations, Situation Awareness and Intelligence for regional Crises), MARISS (European Maritime Security Services), GMOSS (Global Monitoring for Security and Stability). „Frontex: Migration control from space“ weiterlesen

Heron TP in Israel: Germany now arms its drones

With the decision to buy 140 missiles, the German „drone debate“ comes to an end after eight years. All details about the weapons are top secret.

At the request of the government’s parliamentary groups, the Bundestag’s Budget and Defence Committees last week gave the green light to arm the Bundeswehr’s Heron TP drones. As an „interim solution“, they are to provide the air force with a new weapon system until the Eurodrone is fully developed in six years at the earliest. The missiles cost €152 million.

The decisions bring to an end an eight-year-long „drone debate“ in which initially only the Greens and the LEFT opposed the plans of the governing coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD). It began in 2014 with a public hearing of the Defence Committee on „legal and ethical aspects of armed drones“ in the Bundestag, followed in 2018 by the decision to procure „weaponisable“ Heron TP from Israel. „Heron TP in Israel: Germany now arms its drones“ weiterlesen