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

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

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

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

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

PackBot: German Army receives 127 new robots

The Bundeswehr is being equipped with small ground robots for reconnaissance and bomb disposal. Rheinmetall, meanwhile, is showing off an armed drone tank.

The German Army will receive 127 PackBot 525 ground robots, U.S. manufacturer Teledyne FLIR Defense announced last week at the Eurosatory military trade show in Paris. The tablet-controlled devices will be delivered to the Army before the end of July.

The German partner European Logistic Partners (ELP) from Wuppertal is responsible for this. The company has already supplied the Army with the predecessor PackBot 510. There, the device trades as „manipulator vehicle EOD small“. According to the Bundeswehr, it can be carried by one person. „PackBot: German Army receives 127 new robots“ 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

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

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

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