Billion-dollar business with throw-away military drones

The defence company Airbus is expected to have produced 2,000 target drones soon, at a unit price in the six-digit range. The Bundeswehr uses them for air defence training. Further missions are testing swarms of drones.

To train air defence forces, the military simulates another aerial vehicle or an approaching missile with so-called target drones. The unmanned aircraft is then not always shot down, sometimes only the detection and tracking of the target is tested.

The Bundeswehr has been using target drones since the 1980s at the latest. Initially, the troops flew a petrol-powered model aircraft, for example the KZD-2 („Kleinziel-Drohne 2“). „Billion-dollar business with throw-away military drones“ weiterlesen

Italy and Frontex now monitor the Mediterranean Sea with large drones

Last week, the EU Border Agency decided on the multi-year deployment of large drones in the Mediterranean, now Italy is following suit. The contractors have already carried out tests for Frontex over the past two years.

The Italian Ministry of the Interior is providing €7.2 million for the operation of drones in the central Mediterranean. The police and the financial police, who is also responsible for border security, will use the unmanned aerial vehicles by day and night against irregular migration from countries such as Libya and Tunisia. The EU Commission is funding 50% of the procurement with money from the Internal Security Fund.

The contract was apparently awarded to the Italian arms company Leonardo. The firm is to provide up to 1,800 flight hours for an initial year. The drones will be stationed at the Sicilian airports of Trapani, Lampedusa or Ragusa. The Ministry of the Interior demands a deployment radius of about 550 kilometres. The contract has an initial term of one year and can be extended twice. „Italy and Frontex now monitor the Mediterranean Sea with large drones“ weiterlesen

German Airbase in Jagel: Waiting for the drones

Only 23 years after a military drone airport in Jagel was decided, large drones could actually be stationed there. But the squadron is already analysing images and videos of drone missions in Mali. In this way, „terrorists“ and „smugglers“ are also being pursued from Schleswig-Holstein.

On 12 April 2005, Peter Struck (SPD), the Defence Minister in office at the time, decided to expand the Jagel airbase between Kiel and Flensburg for large military drones. Since 1994, the 51 „Immelmann“ reconnaissance squadron with „Tornado“ jet fighters has been stationed there with currently 37 aircraft. From 2009, the first „Euro Hawk“ spy drone was to be transferred to Schleswig-Holstein, and a little later armed Bundeswehr drones were also to be stationed in Jagel. For this purpose, the military airbase was extensively converted, and the Air Force spent some 33 million Euros on a new hangar, parking areas, work on the runway and the necessary technology.

However, the German drone programme turned out to be a disaster. After delivery of only one prototype, in 2011, the Bundeswehr had to bid farewell to the „Euro Hawk“ due to certification problems. The failed 600 Million Euros project almost led to the resignation of the then Minister of Defence Thomas de Maizière (CDU). As a replacement, the German government wanted to station three „Triton“ drones from the same US manufacturer in Jagel from 2025 onwards; the Defence Ministry also abandoned this project in favour of a manned aircraft. „German Airbase in Jagel: Waiting for the drones“ weiterlesen

Ukraine and Serbia are new European drone powers

Four European states now have armed drones, two of which already use them to combat „terrorism“. Another four might consider to weaponize units which have already been ordered, including Germany. All leading manufacturers of unmanned weapons systems from the USA, China, Turkey and Israel could then be represented in Europe.

The Serbian government has received a delivery of armed drones from China. Six CH-92A („Rainbow“) drones and 18 air-to-ground missiles arrived at a military airport near Belgrade a few days ago, according to local media.

The two systems are comprised of three drones each and the respective ground stations. Serbia had ordered a total of nine drones, which together are said to have cost around 27 million Euros. According to reports, a follow-up order for a further 15 drones has been agreed. „Ukraine and Serbia are new European drone powers“ weiterlesen

Maritime Walls

How armaments companies benefit from Fortress Europe

Several agencies in the European Union are responsible for the maritime regions of the Member States. The tasks of the Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) include the control of shipping, while Frontex coordinates the surveillance of maritime borders. Both use modern technologies, and the agencies have now pooled their capabilities. The EU Fisheries Control Agency is another partner to benefit from this tripartite working agreement.

Frontex specialises in satellite reconnaissance using the EUROSUR border surveillance system. With this platform, the agency wants to detect irregular refugee camps in Morocco or suspicious ship movements in the Mediterranean. The images come from an EU satellite programme for monitoring environmental and security matters. „Maritime Walls“ weiterlesen

Frontex monitors sea border with unmanned airship

In the new Frontex budget, more than two billion euros have been reserved for the procurement of the company’s own ships, aircraft and automobiles. After drones, the EU Commission is now testing other technologies for aerial border surveillance

The Greek coast guard is using an unmanned airship in the Aegean Sea. The so-called Aerostat is used to monitor the sea area off the island of Samos. The pilot project is carried out in cooperation with the EU border agency Frontex and is part of Operation „Poseidon“ in the eastern Mediterranean. The tests last one month and are intended to determine the suitability for the detection of irregular border crossings.

If Frontex detects boats that are not seaworthy while still sailing in Turkish territorial waters, the Agency may inform the responsible Turkish sea emergency centre in accordance with maritime law. Aerial images are also to be used to track smugglers. „Frontex monitors sea border with unmanned airship“ weiterlesen

Rheinmetall builds armed drone tank

More and more states have unmanned land vehicles that can be armed or used for surveillance. Programmed missions are carried out completely autonomous.

The Rheinmetall armaments group has developed a „Multimission Unmanned Ground Vehicle“ (MMUGV) that is about to go into series production. The „Mission Master“ is currently on display at various military trade fairs. Rheinmetall is advertising that the drone tank can be used in combat, for troop supply, surveillance, reconnaissance, for evacuation of wounded soldiers or for fire-fighting. The Mission Master is also intended to transport troops.

The vehicles can be operated either remotely, semi-automatically or completely as robots. The „Mission Master“ covers all three possible options. In fully autonomous operation, the operating soldier only has to program the mission and observe its progress. If necessary, the sequence can be interrupted by the user. „Rheinmetall builds armed drone tank“ weiterlesen

German Armed Forces drones complete 87,000 flight hours

The Bundeswehr currently has more than 630 drones. More are to follow, and next year the giant PEGASUS drone will be ordered. 

The German military drones have already completed more than 87,000 flight hours. This was written by the Federal Ministry of Defence in response to a parlamentarian question. With over 50,000 hours, most missions are flown with six Israeli long-range HERON 1 drones. The much smaller LUNA was in the air for around 18,000 hours. As of 2002, the Bundeswehr had purchased 145 units from the German manufacturer EMT. Like the HERON 1, the LUNA is also used in Afghanistan and Mali. „German Armed Forces drones complete 87,000 flight hours“ weiterlesen

Fight against small drones: Police use military technology

The police and military are increasingly confronted with the unwanted use of commercially available drones. For countermeasures, they must be quickly detected and analyzed. German arms companies have developed various methods to then combat the aircrafts.

Every year, around one million small drones are sold in the USA and Europe alone. This figure was quoted last week by the Deputy Director of the German Federal Armed Forces Aircraft Technical Service (WTD 61) during a technical demonstration at the department’s headquarters in Manching. This refers to multicopters with four or more rotors carrying a camera or other sensors, sometimes also called unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

In Germany, the owner’s data must be affixed to a sticker on the device. In many countries, however, the sale or use of unmanned systems is not regulated, which can also make them a „terrorist tool“ for the military in the field. The German government writes that small UAV’s have „proven to be a versatile technical aid in the planning, execution and evaluation of operations by terrorist organisations“. In the meantime they have been used for „airborne reconnaissance and espionage, to identify potential weak points in the run-up to attacks as well as to direct plunging fire“. „Fight against small drones: Police use military technology“ weiterlesen