Reconnaissance and attack: German Bundeswehr is working on drone swarms

In various projects, the military and the defence industry are investigating the networking of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. For the Air Force, they could in small numbers support air combat; for the Army, they can detect and destroy nearby targets in large swarms.

In various projects, the Army and Air Force are researching the „Manned-Unmanned-Teaming“ (MUM-T) of drones that, for example, support fighter jets or helicopters in reconnaissance or attack ground targets in advance flight. The number of accompanying drones is theoretically unlimited and is primarily determined by the computing power of the military control system on the ground.

From 2022, the European Defence Agency wants to fund corresponding research. This is what the German Ministry of Defence writes in its answer to a parlamentarian question. The planned project is called „Autonomous, Reconfigurable Swarms of Unmanned Vehicles for Defense Applications“ (ACHILLES); the unmanned aerial vehicles are to carry out surveillance tasks. The projectalso includes the possible integration of the networked drones into the airspace controlled by civilian air traffic controllers. „Reconnaissance and attack: German Bundeswehr is working on drone swarms“ weiterlesen

Future Combat Air System: Industry squabbles over largest European defence project

The governments of France, Germany and Spain want to develop an AI-based air defence network by 2040. It consists of a new generation of fighter jets accompanied by swarms of drones. A „Combat Cloud“ will then ensure networking with other units on the ground and in the air.

The next stage in the development of a new type of an European air combat system will be delayed. The reason is disputes over competencies among the defence companies involved, which therefore let a deadline for submitting bids on 5 February expire. This was the response of the German Federal Ministry of Defence to a question from Tobias Pflüger, member of the Bundestag. According to this, there are not yet „consented individual offers“ in all technology areas.

Together with France, Germany wants to develop a nuclear-capable „Future Combat Air System“ (FCAS) over the next 20 years, which essentially consists of a new type of combat aircraft. It is to belong to the so-called „sixth generation“ and therefore bears the designation „Next Generation Fighter“ (NGF). In the meantime, Spain has also joined the project. „Future Combat Air System: Industry squabbles over largest European defence project“ weiterlesen

The armed „Eurodrone“ is also to fly with wiretapping technology

On its website, the German Ministry of Defence gives the impression that the mass production of an EU combat drone has already been decided. First, however, the Bundestag is to vote on it. The Social Democratic Party is thus faced with a decision of great consequence.

The „Eurodrone“, for which the German government, together with the governments of France, Italy and Spain, wants to spend 7.1 billion euros, is also to be used for signal intelligence (SIGINT) purpose. This was announced by the Ministry of Defence on Friday under the headline „Eurodrone will improve Bundeswehr reconnaissance“ on its website. Until now, only imaging intelligence (IMINT) and armament had been discussed as possible applications.

The „Eurodrone“ could thus succeed the „Euro Hawk“ project, which failed miserably. High-flying drones of the HALE class (High Altitude, Long Endurance) were to carry three digital interception modules ordered by the Bundeswehr from the Airbus Group. After the US manufacturer Northrop Grumman had delivered a first prototype for test flights, the then Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) pulled the „ripcord“ on the project in summer 2013. To operate in German airspace, the drones needed a system to detect and avoid other aircraft. The US government and Northrop Grumman had withheld important documents needed for the approval process. „The armed „Eurodrone“ is also to fly with wiretapping technology“ weiterlesen

After the war over Nagorno-Karabakh: British military flirts with Turkish-style armed drones

Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles are smaller and much cheaper than their US counterparts. They can be procured in large numbers, so their loss in action is of little consequence.

There is growing support in the UK for a new programme with smaller armed drones. This is what the daily „Guardian“ writes with reference to senior officials of the British Ministry of Defence. According to the paper, the military should procure light-weight unmanned aerial vehicles like those used by Turkey in Azerbaijan’s attack on the region around Nagorno-Karabakh. These are significantly cheaper than the US combat drones currently flown by the Air Force. Therefore, they could be bought in much larger numbers.

Azerbaijan’s six-week war against the Armenian-defended region of Nagorno-Karabakh is considered the first to be decided with the help of drones. The Azerbaijani military used so-called kamikaze drones of the type „Harop“ from Israel, which can circle over the area of operations for hours before hitting. The German Army had also considered procuring these „loitering munitions“ until 2013, but initially postponed the plans until 2019 and later abandoned them in favour of larger drones. „After the war over Nagorno-Karabakh: British military flirts with Turkish-style armed drones“ weiterlesen

New drones are coming in

Next week the Bundeswehr moves into its drone base in Israel, but their „Heron TP“ will be still unarmed. Six European governments have decided against Israeli drones and instead rely on the „Predator B“.

On Monday, the German government launches its armed drones programme at the Tel Nof air base in Israel. The Bundeswehr moves into a container village on the base in the south of Tel Aviv. This is confirmed by the German Ministry of Defence when it writes that, on the initiative of the Israeli army, the training of German soldiers will begin with a ceremony at the air base. Tel Nof is one of the most important facilities of the Israeli Air Force, where according to reports nuclear weapons are stationed. Attacks on Gaza are also flown from Tel Nof. „New drones are coming in“ weiterlesen

German authorities lead international working group on defence against small drones

Three years ago, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior was already arming itself against attacks by small drones. These could endanger critical infrastructures or industrial facilities equipped with firearms or explosives. With the USA, Germany is now leading a working group of a worldwide alliance of states. It is also about defending against „violent extremism“.

Together with the US government, Germany has launched an „initiative to defend against unmanned aerial vehicles“. This was reported by the US State Department in a press release. The founding meeting of an appropriate working group was held within the framework of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) in Berlin on 13 December. The group operates under the abbreviation „GCTF C-UAS“. „German authorities lead international working group on defence against small drones“ weiterlesen

EU researches drone swarms for maritime surveillance

With the support of the EU, arms companies want to try out how 20 different drones can be networked in the air and at sea. Tests will take place in the Mediterranean Sea and the Baltic Sea. In two years „Ocean2020“ should deliver first results.

The European Union is funding a research project on the integration of drones and unmanned submarines into fleet units. According to the EU Commission, the „Ocean2020“ project will be used for „maritime surveillance and interdiction missions at sea“ and other military purposes. The information gathered on the swarms of drones provided the „commanders“ with a „comprehensive picture“ of developing situations, together with findings from other systems. The military project „Ocean2020“ is financed by the European Defence Fund, for which the EU Commission has approved 35 million euros. First results should be available in 2020. „EU researches drone swarms for maritime surveillance“ weiterlesen