Ukraine war: NATO spy drones work overtime

The Western military alliance is stationing five Global Hawks in Sicily. Germany is the main contributor, provides a quarter of the personnel and opens a flight corridor. The drones were even seen in a triple mission with US Global Hawks.

For three years, NATO has been stationing long-range Global Hawk drones at the Italian airbase Sigonella in Sicily. The five aircraft are part of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) programme. Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, regular missions have been conducted along the eastern flank of the military alliance.

Now NATO reports the conclusion of an „intense Surge Week“. Every other day, a drone took off in the direction of the Ukrainian borders. A general is quoted as saying that the aircraft maintenance and communication technicians worked overtime.

More flight hours were completed during the „Surge Week“ than in a comparable period in 2021, giving „intelligence analysts a tremendous opportunity“ to provide detailed analysis. During the flights, „valuable information on the Ukrainian situation“ was gathered. „Ukraine war: NATO spy drones work overtime“ weiterlesen

Heron TP in Israel: Germany now arms its drones

With the decision to buy 140 missiles, the German „drone debate“ comes to an end after eight years. All details about the weapons are top secret.

At the request of the government’s parliamentary groups, the Bundestag’s Budget and Defence Committees last week gave the green light to arm the Bundeswehr’s Heron TP drones. As an „interim solution“, they are to provide the air force with a new weapon system until the Eurodrone is fully developed in six years at the earliest. The missiles cost €152 million.

The decisions bring to an end an eight-year-long „drone debate“ in which initially only the Greens and the LEFT opposed the plans of the governing coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD). It began in 2014 with a public hearing of the Defence Committee on „legal and ethical aspects of armed drones“ in the Bundestag, followed in 2018 by the decision to procure „weaponisable“ Heron TP from Israel. „Heron TP in Israel: Germany now arms its drones“ weiterlesen

EU Commission continues to upgrade surveillance in Libya – and worries about its reputation

The EU is using development aid funds to finance a deployable radar system for the Libyan coast guard. The force, known for its brutality, wants to use it to detect refugees crossing to Europe. Then they will be intercepted by three new patrol boats.

Since 2017, the European Union has been investing in increased surveillance of Libya’s maritime borders. As part of the project „Support to Integrated Border Management and Migration Management in Libya – SIBMMIL“, Italy was tasked with installing a Maritime Coordination Centre in the capital Tripoli and defining a sea rescue zone, where the Libyan Coast Guard has been responsible ever since.

The establishment of the centre was initially financed by the EU with €42 million from the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, and a further €15 million was approved for a second phase of the project. However, neither the EU Commission nor the EU Council could say where the facility is located. It is therefore unclear what the money was spent on and where the purchased equipment has remained. „EU Commission continues to upgrade surveillance in Libya – and worries about its reputation“ weiterlesen

Flight campaign in the UK: Military drone operates in civilian airspace for the first time

Throughout Europe, military drones are only allowed to fly in restricted areas. This is a major obstacle for training and missions inside the country. A British flight series with a US drone is now set to bring a breakthrough for flights in civilian airspace.

For the past two weeks, US drone manufacturer General Atomics has been flying a „SeaGuardian“ in the UK’s civilian airspace. The unmanned aerial vehicle, designed for maritime surveillance, has a wingspan of 24 metres, can climb up to twelve kilometres and remain in the air for 40 hours. With these flights, the British Ministry of Defence wants to prepare the introduction of the almost identical „SkyGuardian“. From 2024, it is to replace the current armed drone fleet of the Air Force, where it operates under the name „Protector“.

For the flight tests, the drones are equipped with a „Detection And Avoidance“ system (DAA). It shows the pilot which other aircraft are in the vicinity and warns of danger. In the event of an imminent collision, an avoidance procedure is automatically initiated. The British Civil Aviation Authority has provisionally approved the operation of the system. „Flight campaign in the UK: Military drone operates in civilian airspace for the first time“ weiterlesen

German Social Democratic Party approves EU war drone

From 2030, European air forces want to have a drone for surveillance, interception or attack. The weapon system could be exported worldwide.

The German Bundestag has just given the go-ahead for the development and procurement of the Eurodrone. A so-called 25 million bill of the governing coalition of Christian and Social Democrats was voted on in the budget committee, the Defence Committee also gave its approval this morning. Their decision clears the way for the series production of a new unmanned system, which is to be delivered to the currently participating countries Germany, France, Italy and Spain from 2029.

The bill now passed for „industrial support for initial flight operations“ allows the Ministry of Defence to sign a contract with the German defence division of Airbus. The European company will be the prime contractor for the final assembly, working with Dassault Aviation (France) and Leonardo (Italy). The total project will cost at least 7.6 billion euros, of which Germany will account for exactly half. „German Social Democratic Party approves EU war drone“ weiterlesen

Where have all the military drones gone?

The German Bundeswehr is one of the armies that flew unmanned systems for reconnaissance already in the 1960s. The first aircraft resembled a model aeroplane and came from the US Army, later they looked like a rocket. From the turn of the millennium, Airbus in particular benefited from the German drone programme.

According to various answers given by the Ministry of Defence to parliamentary questions, the Bundeswehr today has almost 1,000 unmanned aerial vehicles in various designs and sizes. Not counted are aircraft that have been lost; as explained by a list from 2013, about one in seven Bundeswehr drones crashes or is destroyed during an emergency landing.

It is little known that Germany is one of the countries that have been using unmanned military systems for many decades. The first projects date back to the early 1960s, when the Ministry of Defence sent 22 soldiers to the Grafenwöhr military training area to train on US drones. Further soldiers were trained as maintenance and repair personnel in the USA. „Where have all the military drones gone?“ 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

Germany: Problems with another drone project

The LUNA is one of the most widely used drones in the Bundeswehr, and it is also the oldest. The contractor for a much more powerful successor system has now declared insolvency.

In the past two weeks, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) has decided to use the emergency brake against the arming of Bundeswehr drones. This concerned the HERON TP from Israel, which is to replace the HERON 1, which has been flown by the German Army since 2010. It is currently unclear whether and when the German government will try again to make up the decision for the armed HERON TP. Until then, drones will therefore only be used for reconnaissance. In addition to HERON 1, the Bundeswehr also flies the drone LUNA in Afghanistan and Mali. The abbreviation stands for „Airborne Unmanned Short-Range Reconnaissance Equipment“. „Germany: Problems with another drone project“ weiterlesen

German government publishes roadmap on drone armament

The governing coalition of Christian and Social Democrats wants to introduce armed drones in a hurry before the Bundestag elections. More and more SPD members of parliament are now positioning themselves against it

On 16 December, the Budget and Defence Committees of the German Bundestag are due to decide on the armament of the Israeli-derived HERON TP drones for the Bundeswehr. The Ministry of Defence sent a draft decision to the Ministry of Finance a fortnight ago, which will now be submitted to the Bundestag for voting. It is not clear how expensive the armament will be, the mounting points for the desired missiles alone have cost 50 million euros. All details of the ammunition are classified as secret.

In preparation for the vote, the Federal Government has updated an intergovernmental agreement with Israel. It regulates the training of German personnel by the Israeli Air Force and so far only applied to the unarmed HERON TP, which was ordered by the Bundeswehr two years ago. The agreement is now supplemented by the procurement and provision of ammunition, „appropriate additional technical equipment“ and „weapon-specific training“. „German government publishes roadmap on drone armament“ weiterlesen

German battle about arming drones: Unmanned cardboard characters

The German Social Democratic Party sets conditions for the procurement of Israeli armed drones, which are fulfilled anyway

Now the Bundestag’s Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Högl, has also expressed her views on the arming of Bundeswehr drones. The topic is „ready for decision“, Högl explained to the German broadcaster ARD in an interview and at the same time mentioned conditions for unmanned operations with the „Heron TP“ leased from Israel. According to these conditions, the drones in the Bundeswehr’s mandate areas should „not be controlled from Berlin“. Technically, this would be possible, but in the draft leasing contract with the arms manufacturer Airbus, the Ministry of Defence has omitted the necessary ground stations. Högl is therefore making a demand which is being met by the military in advance. The matter is somewhat different for the mission control of the drones, i.e. the observation of missions in real time with the cameras and sensors installed in the „Heron TP“. It is carried out by the air force in Jagel, Schleswig-Holstein. The Commissioner for the Armed Forces does not say a word about this spatial dissolution of boundaries in drone warfare. „German battle about arming drones: Unmanned cardboard characters“ weiterlesen