After EU recommendation: Frontex drone allowed to fly in civilian airspace in Greece

Two Israeli arms companies are offering their long-range drones in Europe for border surveillance. In addition to the military in Switzerland, the Greek coast guard is also carrying out corresponding missions.

For more than a year, the EU border agency Frontex has stationed a large drone at Valletta Airport in Malta to monitor the central Mediterranean. The unmanned aerial vehicle of Heron 1 type with a wingspan of almost 17 metres comes from the manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries. In the summer, another such drone from Israel followed for flights from the island of Crete. The Greek coast guard uses it to observe the Ionian Sea, which stretches between the Peloponnese and Italy, as part of Frontex missions.

Until now, Frontex drones were only allowed to take off and land in reserved or restricted airspace. Now, the Greek Civil Aviation Authority has granted permission for the Heron 1 to operate in general Greek airspace. It is the first permit of its kind for an Israeli long-range drone in Europe. This brings to a positive end a test phase of around ten years for the drone industry: corresponding trials with a Heron 1 were already carried out in Spanish civil airspace in 2012. „After EU recommendation: Frontex drone allowed to fly in civilian airspace in Greece“ weiterlesen

Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel

Israeli authorities are to be allowed to process and interlink personal information from the EU using „automated procedures“. According to a draft, this would even be possible in the territories occupied after 1967, although the so-called territorial clause excludes this.

Five years ago, EU member states gave the Commission a mandate to start negotiations for a Europol agreement with Israel, after the Estonian Presidency had presented a draft to that effect at the end of 2017. Now the Commission appears to have finished negotiating. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has posted the document online. The Council and Parliament are now expected to give the green light.

The planned cooperation with the EU police agency is explicitly about the exchange of personal data. All authorities responsible for fighting terrorism and organised crime in Israel would benefit from this. According to the draft, however, it would also cover „product piracy“, „racism and xenophobia“, „swindle“ and „migrant smuggling“. „Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel“ weiterlesen

Ukraine war: Iran now becomes a single-use drone power

Russia’s war in Ukraine is increasingly being fought with unmanned systems. Both sides are using so-called „loitering munitions“ originating from the US or Iran. A new Iranian drone clone could also soon be flying attacks.

Iran wants to export more attack drones to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine. The exact number of units is not known. However, the unmanned systems are said to be part of a package of 1,000 additional weapons, including short-range surface-to-surface missiles. This was reported by the US news magazine CNN. The delivery is to take place before the end of the year. Russia intends to use it to supplement its dwindling supply of small Lancet-3 attack drones.

Russian forces are using several variants of Iranian drones in Ukraine. For more than two months, the army has mainly been flying attacks with the Shahed-136, of which Russia is said to have already received a four-digit number. According to official figures, the most recent delivery of weapons from Iran alone is said to comprise about 450 units. Most recently, the drones have hit numerous energy infrastructures in Ukraine. „Ukraine war: Iran now becomes a single-use drone power“ weiterlesen

Loitering munition: Rheinmetall sells first kamikaze drones to NATO state

In the present wars, the military is increasingly using remote-controlled warheads. The German defence ministry calls such weapons „worrying“. But after similar plans a decade ago, the Bundeswehr is again considering to procure them.

For the first time, the arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has won an order for its loitering munition. According to a press release from last September, the unnamed customer is a special forces unit of a NATO state. Rheinmetall states the value of the order to be in the „single-digit million euro range“. Delivery is scheduled until 2023.

The NATO buyer, which according to speculation could be Hungary, has ordered the HERO-30. This is the smallest version of the HERO family of „loiter-capable munitions“, which can circle over their target for up to 30 minutes. It is launched from a tube using compressed air, unfolds its pivoting wings in flight and is powered by a silent electric motor. „Loitering munition: Rheinmetall sells first kamikaze drones to NATO state“ weiterlesen

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

Resignations over „Predator“ spyware scandal in Greece

The Greek secret service spied on at least one journalist, today its head resigned. In addition, the prime minister’s secretary-general quit his post. The affair reaches the EU level after a current MEP was also spied on.

The Greek wiretapping affair involving the „Predator“ spy programme is widening. According to media reports, Grigoris Dimitriadis, the Secretary General of the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, resigned today. Today, his office writes that the head of the secret service, Panagiotis Kontoleon, has also submitted his resignation.

The association „Reporters United“ had previously reported how a network of companies with the participation of Dimitriadis was making money from state operations of the spyware. Intellexa, the company that distributes „Predator“ in Greece, is part of this. The revelation is also explosive because the two are relatives: The Secretary General is the nephew of the Prime Minister, who in turn is directly responsible for the secret service as a user of „Predator“. „Resignations over „Predator“ spyware scandal in Greece“ weiterlesen

Access to biometric data: Five states concede to U.S. government demand, MEPs speak of ‚blackmail‘

Visa-free entry to the United States will be tied to a new requirement. Officials there want to be allowed to conduct automated searches for fingerprints and facial images in national databases of EU states. In Brussels, questions now abound about the EU’s jurisdiction.

At least five governments worldwide have agreed to give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security access to their national biometric police databases. This is to become a new provision so that citizens of the countries concerned can continue to enter the USA without a visa. Most recently, Great Britain has agreed to such an Enhanced Border Security Partnership (EBSP); this was already known about Israel.

In addition, three EU countries are said to have already concluded a bilateral agreement with the government in Washington, MEPs in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) learned last Wednesday in a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to the EU. However, they remained unnamed. „Access to biometric data: Five states concede to U.S. government demand, MEPs speak of ‚blackmail‘“ weiterlesen

Military and border police: New age for surveillance balloons

Various manufacturers are developing balloons for flight in the stratosphere. At lower altitudes, the German armed forces and Frontex, for example, rely on tethered airships

Asman Technology, a company specializing in aerial reconnaissance, is reportedly planning to send balloons with surveillance sensor technology into the stratosphere. The French manufacturer is currently exhibiting a corresponding prototype under the name Forests at the Eurosatory military trade fair in Paris. It is to fly at altitudes of up to 25 kilometers, covering some 200,000 square kilometers. The endurance is said to be several months.

Asman Technology states that the stratospheric balloon’s payload is 100 kilograms; in the future, this could even be scaled up to five times that amount. The sensors carried are modular; in addition to electro-optical devices or a FLIR radar, the balloon can also carry communications equipment. The information is to be transmitted to a ground station at a high data rate. „Military and border police: New age for surveillance balloons“ 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

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