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 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

Frontex closes surveillance gaps in the air and in space

High-flying drones are to reconnoitre the EU’s external borders from the stratosphere, a static zeppelin is already observing close to the ground. With interception systems in space, the EU border agency wants to locate and possibly tap satellite telephones in the Mediterranean. So far, the technology has only been installed in aircraft.

The European Union‘s border agency Frontex is expanding its „surveillance capability“ with high-flying platforms. In a call for tenders, systems are being sought for use in the stratosphere. At an altitude of 20 kilometres, they are to close the gap between the aircraft, drones and satellites already in use.

The systems sought include so-called high-altitude platforms (HAPS) or lighter-than-air (LTA) solutions, such as those currently being developed to series maturity by the European armament company Airbus with the glider „Zephyr“ or its French competitor Thales with the zeppelin-like „Stratobus“, which can last for months or even years. Suppliers of microsatellites, which can be launched into space extremely cheaply these days, can also apply.

The launch of HAPS has been driven by the EU Space Agency since 2017, and its market share at the time was estimated to be over €7 billion by 2024. Frontex could therefore be one of the first users of the new technology, as with the „Space Data Highway“. „Frontex closes surveillance gaps in the air and in space“ weiterlesen

Border with Turkey: EU Commission wants to track down refugees with „foliage detection“

A EU research project is testing the combination of different surveillance technologies on refugees. This involves telephone and motion detectors, cameras, radar systems, electromagnetic sensors as well as eavesdropping microphones. In addition to drones, „stratospheric platforms“ will also be used.

On its research website, the EU Commission states that „irregular migration has dramatically increased, and is no longer manageable with existing systems“. This is why the Commission wants to improve the detection of undocumented border crossings with new technology. The focus is on densely wooded land borders, which are difficult to monitor with patrols. The security research project is entitled „Through-foliage detection, including in the outermost regions of the EU“ (FOLDOUT) and is led by the Austrian Institute of Technology. Among those involved are the French armaments group Thales and border police forces from Bulgaria, Finland, Lithuania and Poland. „Border with Turkey: EU Commission wants to track down refugees with „foliage detection““ weiterlesen