German Air Force in Afghanistan and Mali: Drone operator talks on his severe trauma

For the first time, a German „Master of a Drone System“ reports heavy stress disorders and depression just from watching from the air. With the upcoming introduction of armed drones, the phenomenon is likely to get worse.

After about a decade of „drone debate“, the German Bundestag decided in April to arm drones for the Bundeswehr. Beforehand, the Ministry of Defence had invited a few critical voices to hearings, in addition to many supporters. Among other things, they warned of the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for pilots, but especially for the personnel operating the sensor technology. This was also reported by former members of US drone squadrons – but outside the official events of the German Ministry of Defence, which deliberately refrained from inviting them.

The 45 year old André Hassan Khan is the first German Armed Forces drone operator to speak out about his PTSD, which he says has taken a severe course. Since its introduction twelve years ago, he has operated the optical and radar-based cameras of the Israeli Heron 1 reconnaissance drone with the air force in Afghanistan and later in Mali. Khan is a „Tactical Operator Master of a Drone System“. That is the name of the training course at Tactical Air Force Squadron 51 „Immelmann“ in Schleswig-Holstein, which operates the Bundeswehr drones. „German Air Force in Afghanistan and Mali: Drone operator talks on his severe trauma“ weiterlesen

Military reconnaissance: German drones in use in Ukraine

The German Ministry of Defence is supplying a total of 43 unarmed aerial drones to its partner in Ukraine, as well as various technology to defend against such systems. In addition, there is talk of up to 20 naval drones.

The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine has received a first delivery of reconnaissance drones from Germany. They come from the company Quantum Systems, which has its headquarters in Gilching near Munich. According to a press release, some of the drones are already in use. The handover of further aircraft is said to be „in preparation and processing stage“.

Unmanned systems are playing an increasingly important role in the Ukraine war. Armed drones from Turkey have caused major losses for the Russian military; due to the lack of its own assets, the government in Moscow is now relying on imports from Iran. Both sides also use so-called kamikaze drones, which circle above the enemy with a warhead and swoop down on the target when the opportunity is right. „Military reconnaissance: German drones in use in Ukraine“ 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

Vertical take-off: German military buys modernised reconnaissance drones

After more than a decade, the Bundeswehr is replacing its 145 quadrocopters with a revised model. It comes from the same company, is foldable and can mark targets. The overall system in the backpack weighs 15 kilograms.

The Armed Forces‘ branches can look forward to145 new quadrocopters for „imaging reconnaissance.“ The order was placed via the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), which is now providing information about it. The contract was awarded back in May.

The new drones will be handed over in Summer 2023, with delivery to be completed by 2024. Operator training should also be completed by then. „Vertical take-off: German military buys modernised reconnaissance drones“ weiterlesen

German Bundeswehr: Heavy drone first time flies in regular air traffic

A new EU certificate allows drones over 25 kilograms to fly beyond visual range in civil and military airspace. But there have been crashes.

The German Armed Forces Procurement Office tested a drone for the first time in military airspace beyond visual range, while regular air traffic was also taking place there. Flown was the UAV One 150 fixed-wing aircraft from the Primoco company in the Czech Republic.

The aircraft was equipped with transponders for this purpose in addition to radio communication. This allowed it to be integrated into the air traffic management system of manned aviation. The required sensors came from the German interception specialist Plath.

Plath and Primoco described the drone flights as a „milestone“ in a German military airspace. In fact, the tests could provide a breakthrough. That’s because until now, aviation law has stipulated that heavy drones can generally only fly in restricted airspace. This enormously reduces the possibilities for use in the military and civilian sectors. „German Bundeswehr: Heavy drone first time flies in regular air traffic“ weiterlesen

Assistance over Ukraine war: Border police in Moldova receive German drones

The delivery to the government in Chişinău is being financed by Germany. The project is headed by an ousted Berlin police chief.

The German government is equipping Moldova with drones for border security. For this purpose, the border police will initially receive five unmanned aerial vehicles from the company Germandrones starting in the summer. Training of border guards to control and operate the sensor technology has already begun with a training drone, the manufacturer reported in a press release.

According to Germandrones, former Berlin Federal Police chief and later Berlin police president Klaus Kandt is acting as project coordinator. Kandt had to vacate his post in the capital in 2018 due to criticism of his leadership style and several scandals. „Assistance over Ukraine war: Border police in Moldova receive German drones“ weiterlesen

Joint Investigation Teams: European authorities get digital cooperation platform

EU investigators want to set up a new information system for the exchange of digital evidence. Criminal justice authorities would be connected, but not customs. The German Ministry of Justice therefore issues a protocol declaration.

With a new regulation, the European Union wants to facilitate cross-border cooperation between law enforcement and judicial authorities in difficult investigations. The format of Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) is to be given a central point for the exchange of digital evidence and other information for this purpose. Other EU agencies would also be connected to this, including Eurojust, Europol, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and the anti-fraud agency OLAF.

The proposal for the establishment of such a „platform“ was presented by the EU Commission in December. As a building block of the „digitalisation initiative“ in the area of criminal justice, it is intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing systems. According to the proposal, the development and technical management of the „platform“ will be entrusted to the Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA). „Joint Investigation Teams: European authorities get digital cooperation platform“ weiterlesen

Ukraine war: USA plans to deliver large armed drones

Equipping the Ukrainian military with the successor of the well-known Predator drones means three revolutions in warfare with drones at once.

The U.S. government plans to deliver four MQ-1C Gray Eagle armed drones to Ukraine in the coming days and also provide training for pilots and operators. This was reported by Reuters news agency last week in an exclusive report, citing three different sources.

Before a public announcement of the weapons delivery, however, Congress will be informed, a U.S. official told the agency. A White House spokesman, meanwhile, commented when asked by Reuters that there was nothing to announce. „Ukraine war: USA plans to deliver large armed drones“ weiterlesen